Uber rival Grab nets strategic investment from Toyota

Uber’s Asia-based rival Grab has confirmed that it has taken an undisclosed investment from Toyota.

The Japanese automotive giant has been named as one of the participants in Grab’s Series G round which is targeted at $2.5 billion. The Singapore-headquartered company confirmed that SoftBank and China’s Didi contributed $2 billion, but it is collecting an additional $500 million from other participants.

There is a collaborative component to this deal with Toyota, which is making the first investment from its Next Technology Fund. The two will work closely to optimize the performance of Toyota vehicles within Grab’s driver platform.

Grab will share data on driving patterns from 100 Toyota cars in Grab’s fleet with Toyota, who will then analyse the data captured and offer recommendations on how Toyota’s other connected car services on the Toyota Mobility Service Platform (MSPF) can enhance the Grab experience for drivers on the Grab platform.

[It should be noted that the investment is from Toyota Tsusho, the Toyota Group’s trading arm, while the data partnership is with Toyota Motor.]

Toyota isn’t the first auto company to own a chunk of Grab, which is now valued at over $6 billion. Honda made a similar undisclosed investment coupled with an alliance late last year.

Grab is present in 87 cities across seven countries in Southeast Asia. It claims over 55 million app downloads and 1.2 million drivers. Uber is also in seven countries in the region but it doesn’t disclose information about its business there. One other major rival is billion-dollar startup Go-Jek, which is present in Indonesia and moving close to a $1.2 billion round of its own.