The Asian ride sharing market received a massive shakeup when Toyota’s trading arm recently joined the ride sharing firm Grab’s financing round. The deal is expected to raise an estimated two and a half billion dollars, led by Toyota’s Chinese peer Didi Chuxing and Japan’s Softbank Group Corporation. Toyota Tsusho Corp, where Toyota Motors is the largest stakeholder, invested an undisclosed sum in Grab.
The Singapore-headquartered company confirmed that Softbank and Didi contributed $2 billion more, and that it’s also collecting an additional $500 million from other participants. The investment was in response to a wave of similar deals made in the Southeast Asian market, where major companies are investing in booming economies to secure the younger, tech-savvy demographics.
Toyota stated that it would install driving recorder devices in vehicles operated by Grab, as the automaker expands into new driving services. Under a pilot program, Toyota will install its TransLog device in approximately 100 rental cars operated by the Grab, enabling the companies to analyze driving patterns and offer improved access to similarly connected car services. This means it might get easier to work for the ride sharing company if you have a Toyota vehicle. The app could be installed onto a vehicle’s onboard navigation system, or similar onboard setups in the future.
These investments could result in Grab gaining a leg up on Uber in the Southeast Asian markets, at least. Uber has certainly seen better days—scandals, CEO mishaps, and continual controversy throughout most of the company’s internal layout—it seems that the company may go the way of Blockbuster and Radioshack sooner rather than later.
Grab is in eighty-seven cities across seven countries in Southeast Asia. Grab claims over 55 million app downloads and 1.2 million drivers. Uber operates in seven countries in the region, but doesn’t disclose any business information about its operations there.