Toyota just sunk another $US1 billion into Asian ride-sharing giant Grab

Toyota to invest billion in Grab

This deal will apparently raise Grab's value from US$6 billion to US$10 billion, according to TechCrunch. Grab said it plans to work with its new investor "to create a more efficient transport network that will ease traffic congestion in Southeast Asia's megacities" and help its drivers increase their income.

Toyota Motor Corp has agreed to invest $1 billion (S$1.34 billion) in Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab as a lead investor in the company's ongoing financing round, which was launched after it bought Uber Technologies' regional business. Toyota has installed its data recorders in Grab-operated rental cars to collect driving data - a similar strategy it has employed with Japan Taxi, said Bloomberg.

A Toyota executive will be appointed to Grab's board and another Toyota representative is being tapped to be an executive officer at Grab, the company said.

GM has invested in ride-hailing provider Lyft, while also developing self-driving cars to compete with other autonomous-vehicle companies.

Toyota Motor Corp.is making the largest ever bet by an automaker on ride-hailing as it embraces new businesses that threaten to disrupt the industry's traditional vehicle ownership model. Toyota has also backed San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc. and made investments in Japan Taxi, an Uber rival run by the chairman of Tokyo's biggest taxi operator.

"Going forward, together with Grab, we will develop services that are more attractive, safe and secure for our customers in Southeast Asia", Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota executive vice-president, said in the release.

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Besides the namesake app that we're familiar with, Grab operates online-to-offline (O2O) mobile platforms in transportation, food and package delivery, mobile payments and financial services in 217 cities across eight ASEAN countries.

Toyota put money into Grab via its Next Technology Fund previous year, but this time around the capital comes directly from the parent company. The carmaker first invested an undisclosed amount in Grab in August past 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. This strong partnership will enable us to become the one-stop mobility platform in Southeast Asia.

In a statement, Toyota said the deal "is aimed at achieving connectivity for Grab's rental auto fleet across Southeast Asia, and at rolling out various connected services throughout the region that utilize vehicle data" stored by Toyota.

Updates with Toyota's earlier Grab stake in fifth paragraph.

Last month, Indonesian ride-hailing and online payment firm Go-Jek said it would enter Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines in the next few months, investing $500 million in its global push.

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