Toyota invests in Grab to extend ride-share foray
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.
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.