Toy­ota in­vests in Grab to ex­tend ride-share foray

Montreal Gazette - - FINANCIAL POST - KEVIN BUCK­LAND

Toy­ota Mo­tor is push­ing deeper into the ride-shar­ing busi­ness.

Toy­ota Tsusho, the au­tomaker’s trad­ing arm, will in­vest an undis­closed amount in Grab, South­east Asia’s lead­ing ride-hail­ing op­er­a­tor. Toy­ota Mo­tor said it will work with Grab to pro­vide ser­vices in the re­gion, a year af­ter the car­maker bought a small stake in Uber Tech­nolo­gies Inc. as it ex­plores new rev­enue mod­els.

“Through this col­lab­o­ra­tion with Grab, we would like to ex­plore new ways of de­liv­er­ing se­cure, con­ve­nient and at­trac­tive mo­bil­ity ser­vices to our fleet cus­tomers in South­east Asia,” Shigeki To­moyama, a se­nior man­ag­ing of­fi­cer at Toy­ota, said Wed­nes­day.

Au­to­mo­bile man­u­fac­tur­ers are work­ing with and com­pet­ing against tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies to fig­ure out how to make money from ser­vices to driv­ers as au­to­ma­tion, elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and on-de­mand trans­porta­tion threaten to re­shape the cur­rent model of in­di­vid­ual car own­er­ship. Honda Mo­tor Co. has also in­vested in Grab, its first in a ride-shar­ing com­pany, in a part­ner­ship aimed at ex­pand­ing mo­tor­cy­cle-hail­ing op­er­a­tions in South­east Asia.

Toy­ota’s in­vest­ment in Grab will be through the six bil­lion yen (US$55 mil­lion) Next Tech­nol­ogy Fund set up by Toy­ota Tsusho for op­por­tu­ni­ties in in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies, prod­ucts and ser­vices.

Grab is aim­ing to raise US$2.5 bil­lion from the lat­est round of funding, of which it has pre­vi­ously an­nounced US$2 bil­lion in in­vest­ment from Didi Chux­ing and SoftBank. That will take Grab’s val­u­a­tion north of US$6 bil­lion, a per­son fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said in July.

Toy­ota will record and an­a­lyze driv­ing pat­terns in 100 Grab cars in Sin­ga­pore, and of­fer rec­om­men­da­tions on what con­nected ser­vices it can pro­vide Grab driv­ers, the two com­pa­nies said in sep­a­rate state­ments.

“We are con­fi­dent this will ben­e­fit our driver part­ners,” Grab co­founder and CEO An­thony Tan said in one of the state­ments. “We look for­ward to ex­plor­ing other ways to col­lab­o­rate with Toy­ota in the fu­ture.”

Car­mak­ers glob­ally are rac­ing to place bets on which com­pa­nies will emerge as the dom­i­nant play­ers in ride-shar­ing. Gen­eral Mo­tors has joined forces with both Uber and Lyft, while Volvo part­nered with the for­mer and Tata Mo­tors’ Jaguar Land Rover with the lat­ter.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Toy­ota Mo­tor is ex­plor­ing new rev­enue mod­els through its in­vest­ment in Grab, South Asia’s key ride-hail­ing op­er­a­tor, as it races with other car­mak­ers to be­come big play­ers in ride-shar­ing.

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