Toyota Invests $1 Billion in Southeast Asian Uber Rival Grab

The two companies will also collaborate on connected car services.

US-ECONOMY-AUTO
GEOFF ROBINS—AFP/Getty Images

Toyota will take a $1 billion stake in ride-hailing company Grab, which recently took over Uber's Southeast Asian operations. Grab claims this is the largest-ever investment by an automaker in a ride-hailing company.

Toyota invested an undisclosed amount in Grab last year. This time around, Toyota is the leading investor in Grab's latest financing round. Toyota will appoint an executive to Grab's board of directors, and a Toyota "team member" will be seconded to Grab as an executive, a Grab press release said.

The two companies will also collaborate on "connected car services," including "telematics based insurance," according to Grab. Under the previous arrangement, Grab provided data on the driving patterns of 100 Toyota cars in its fleet. Expanding the technical collaboration could lead to the development of data-based services that both companies could market to their customers.

When it comes to ride hailing, the attitude of many automakers seems to be "if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em." Ride hailing provides an alternative to car ownership and thus presents a threat to automakers. But Toyota isn't the only automaker investing in a ride-hailing company. Honda and Hyundai also invest in Grab, while General Motors has invested in Lyft.

Another major investor in Grab is Japan's SoftBank. The firm is also an Uber investor, and last month it agreed to invest $2.25 billion in GM's Cruise Automation self-driving car unit. Ride hailing is widely expected to be the first real-world application of autonomous cars, so SoftBank may be trying to future proof its investments in Uber and Grab. SoftBank invests in Didi Chuxing as wel, which bought Uber's Chinese operations in 2016, tying together three of the world's largest ride-hailing companies.

Google's New Ride-Sharing App Targets Google-backed Uber
The Drive