Toyota invests in Uber rival Grab, agrees data collaboration

GrabSoutheast Asian ride hailing service Grab has received investment from Toyota, adding to the over $2bn funding round led by fellow ride hailing company Didi Chuxing and Japanese internet powerhouse SoftBank.

Toyota’s investment comes from its Toyota Tsusho trading arm through its Next Technology Fund, which was created in April to invest in technology, product and service innovations across the sectors that the company operates. Grab is the first to receive an investment from the fund.

“We are delighted to welcome this investment from Toyota Tsusho,” said Anthony Tan, Grab CEO and co-founder. “It is an affirmation of our hard work, leading position and Southeast Asia’s enormous growth potential. We look forward to working with Toyota Tsusho to move Southeast Asia forward.”

In addition to the investment, Grab and Toyota have also agreed to collaborate on a data-focused program that aims to offer Grab drivers improved access to connected car services.

The initiative will see Grab share data on driving patterns, captured by Toyota’s TransLog data-transmission driving recorder, from 100 Toyota cars in its fleet. This information will then be analysed by Toyota’s team and, based on this analysis, recommendations will be made about how other connected car services offered by the Toyota Mobile Service Platform (MSPF) could improve Grab driver experience.

“Through this collaboration with Grab, we would like to explore new ways of delivering secure, convenient and attractive mobility services to our fleet customers in Southeast Asia,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation and president of the Connected Company.

Grab, which boasts 55m app downloads and over 1.2m drivers in 87 cities across Southeast Asia, has also seen its head of engineering depart the company.

According to TechCrunch, VP of engineering Arul Kumaravel has left for personal reasons. Kumarvel joined the Grab from Amazon, where he was head of mobile development, in April 2015.