Toyota to buy $1-billion stake in Grab

A young man walks past a Grab advertisement in Singapore

Toyota was initially cautious about ride-sharing and autonomous-driving technology.

South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co and Japan's Honda Motor Co Ltd have also previously funded Grab, which said it has achieved run-rate revenue of over $1 billion. The carmaker first invested an undisclosed amount in Grab in August previous year, after it invested in US-based Uber in 2016 in a partnership for a financing programme that allowed Uber drivers to lease vehicles from Toyota and drive for Uber to cover the payments.

As part of this agreement, Toyota will invest US$1 billion (RM4 billion) in Grab.

Japan's SoftBank Group Corp last month announced it would invest $2.25 billion in the Cruise autonomous vehicle unit of General Motors Co, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC have agreed to supply vehicles for Alphabet Inc's self-driving auto subsidiary Waymo.

Some automakers have responded by partnering with makers of ride-hailing apps which dominate the fast-growing field of mobility services, in anticipation of a future of reduced vehicle ownership.

Toyota is investing as a lead investor in Grab's ongoing financing round, Grab said in a statement on Wednesday (June 13). Six-year-old Grab faces fierce competition from Indonesian rival Go-Jek, which is expanding ride-hailing and other services in Southeast Asia.

"We will work with partners like Toyota to continue to transform transportation in Southeast Asia", Grab said in an email.

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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 says that this investment allows it to further expand its range of O2O services, such as GrabFood and GrabPay, deeper into the region. The company's app has been downloaded onto over 100 million mobile devices and the firm logs over 6 million rides per day.

Toyota will also share technology with Grab, including software that predicts when cars need maintenance. This strong partnership will enable us to become the one-stop mobility platform in Southeast Asia.

Grab made headlines in March by buying out Uber's business in Southeast Asia in a multibillion-dollar deal.

Grab, which is headquartered in Singapore, is a leading player in the ride-share industry in Asia, and earlier this year agreed to acquire U.S. giant Uber's regional operations.

Grab's main rival is now Indonesia's Go-Jek which last month said it would invest $500 million to begin expanding overseas.

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