Toyota Motor Corp plans to buy a $1 billion stake in Southeast Asia's Grab in the biggest investment by a carmaker into a ride-hailing firm, aiming at driving advances in Mobility as a Service (MaaS) across the region.
As part of the agreement between Toyota and Grab, agreement, Toyota will invest $1 billion U.S. dollars (approximately 110 billion yen) in Grab. Furthermore, to accelerate decision-making, one Toyota executive will be appointed to Grab's board of directors and a dedicated Toyota team member will be seconded to Grab to as an executive officer, with Toyota considering more personnel exchanges in the future.
Grab operates online-to-offline mobile platforms in transportation, food and package delivery, mobile payments and financial services in 217 cities in eight Southeast Asian countries. In March this year, it acquired Uber Technologies Inc.'s Southeast Asian assets, and is now the partner of choice for ride-hailing in the region.
Since August 2017, Toyota and Grab have been developing connected services for Grab utilizing driving data collected by Toyota's TransLog data-transmission driving recorder. The recorder, developed by Toyota for corporate fleets, has been installed in 100 Grab rental cars. The data collected is stored on Toyota's proprietary mobility services platform (MSPF), which serves as a form of information infrastructure for connected vehicles. Both companies have already begun collaboration in the field of connected vehicles by, for example, providing driving-data-based automotive insurance for Grab's rental fleet in Singapore through local insurance companies.
With the new deal, the new companies are expanding their collaboration in order to achieve connectivity for Grab's rental car fleet across Southeast Asia, and roll out various connected services throughout the region that utilize vehicle data stored on Toyota's MSPF. In addition, collaborations in driving-data-based automotive insurance, financial services for Grab drivers and maintenance services are also contemplated under the new partnership.
Through the new agreement, Toyota and Grab plan to shift into full-scale implementation of services they have been developing to customers in Southeast Asia. The two companies will look for future collaborations aimed to achieve more-efficient ride-hailing businesses and for developing future mobility service solutions and MaaS vehicles.
The deal comes as the auto industry has been seeking for technological prowess with the advent of features such as autonomous driving, while app makers offer passengers the option to forgo car purchases by connecting them with drivers.
Some automakers have responded by partnering with makers of ride-hailing apps which dominate the field of mobility services, in anticipation of a future of reduced car ownership.
General Motors Co has invested in U.S. ride services firm Lyft, whose rival Uber Technologies Inc. is also backed by Toyota. SoftBank Group Corp - also an investor in Grab and Uber - last month said it would invest $2.25 billion in GM's autonomous vehicle unit Cruise.
Other Grab investors include Honda Motor Co Ltd, Hyundai Motor Co and Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing. Uber acquired 27.5 percent of Grab in exchange for the U.S. firm's Southeast Asian business earlier this year.