Akio Toyoda continues to push the company founded by his grandfather into the automotive future. Toyota has made its boldest bet to date on the growing ride-hailing market in Asia, part of the CEO’s steady steering of the family-owned company into the new world of mobility services.
Toyota is investing $1 billion into Singapore’s Grab Holdings, Southeast Asia’s largest car-hailing service and an Uber rival that is valued at more than $10 billion. As part of the new agreement, Toyota will receive a seat on Grab’s board and place an executive on the company’s management team.
The gambit is one of the largest-ever investments by Toyota beyond its core business. Toyota previously backed Uber and invested in Japan Taxi before first partnering with Grab last August to develop connected services.
As part of the partnership, Toyota has installed its data recorders in Grab-operated rental cars to collect driving data. The expanding collaboration “utilizes Toyota’s connected technologies” and “will develop services that are more attractive, safe and secure” for customers in the region, the automaker said in a press release.
As touted in the “Start Your Impossible” global branding campaign that ran during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, Toyota has come to define “mobility” as moving beyond the traditional automotive platform into technologies such as human-assisting robots and artificial-intelligence systems.
Now Toyoda wants to accelerate the company’s transition to mobility services, saying earlier this year that Toyota must move quickly to scale beyond making and selling vehicles. Its steeper investments in autonomous and electrified vehicles also reflect that determination.
Grab, for its part, wants to establish Southeast Asia’s largest fleet of rental cars by the end of the year. Its popularity and growth already have forced Uber to retreat from the region.
Grab now operates online-to-offline mobile platforms in transportation, food and package delivery, mobile payments and financial services in 217 cities in eight countries. Yet, Grab faces a rivalry with Go-Jek, which is gearing up for heavier investment in the region, the newspaper said.
“We are thrilled to have Toyota onboard as a long-term, strategic partner,” Grab Co-Founder and CEO Anthony Tan stated. “This strong partnership will enable us to become the one-stop mobility platform in Southeast Asia.”