Toyota announced today that it has concluded an agreement with ride-sharing app company Grab to strengthen their existing partnership and expand collaboration in Southeast Asia to drive further advances in Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

As part of this agreement, Toyota will invest US$1 billion (RM4 billion) in Grab. To accelerate decision-making, one Toyota executive will be appointed to Grab’s board of directors and a dedicated Toyota team member will be seconded to Grab to as an executive officer, with Toyota considering more personnel exchanges in the future.

Toyota is the lead investor in Grab’s ongoing financing round, launched following Grab’s takeover of Uber’s Southeast Asian assets. The US$1 billion sum is the largest-ever investment globally by an automaker in the ride-hailing sector.

Besides the namesake app that we’re familiar with, Grab operates online-to-offline (O2O) mobile platforms in transportation, food and package delivery, mobile payments and financial services in 217 cities across eight ASEAN countries. In March this year, it acquired Uber’s Southeast Asian assets to be the dominant ride-hailing player in the region.

Since August 2017, Toyota and Grab have been developing connected services for the latter, utilising driving data collected by Toyota’s TransLog data-transmission driving recorder. The recorder, developed by Toyota for corporate fleets, has been installed in 100 Grab rental cars. The data collected is stored on Toyota’s proprietary mobility services platform (MSPF), which serves as a form of information infrastructure for connected vehicles.

Both companies have already begun collaboration in the field of connected vehicles by, for example, providing driving-data-based automotive insurance for Grab’s rental fleet in Singapore through local insurance companies.

Today’s announced expansion is aimed at achieving connectivity for Grab’s rental car fleet across Southeast Asia, and at rolling out various connected services throughout the region that use vehicle data stored on Toyota’s MSPF. In addition, collaborations in driving-data-based automotive insurance, financial services for Grab drivers and maintenance services are also contemplated under the new partnership.

Through this new agreement, Toyota and Grab plan to shift into full-scale implementation of services they have been developing to customers. The two companies will look for future collaborations aimed to achieve more-efficient ride-hailing businesses and for developing future mobility service solutions and MaaS vehicles.

Grab says that this investment allows it to further expand its range of O2O services, such as GrabFood and GrabPay, deeper into the region.

“We are thrilled to have Toyota onboard as a long-term, strategic partner of Grab. Toyota is an incredible company that has done so much for the world. This strong partnership will enable us to become the one-stop mobility platform in Southeast Asia. We look forward to executing the same vision of the future. A future that will provide for safer and more affordable rides, more liveable cities, and millions of new micro businesses in the digital revolution. We will continue to work with global leaders like Toyota in bringing this vision to pass,” said Anthony Tan, co-founder and CEO of Grab.

“I am delighted that we are strengthening our collaboration, which utilises Toyota’s connected technologies, with Grab. Going forward, together with Grab, we will develop services that are more attractive, safe and secure for our customers in Southeast Asia,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota executive VP and president of Toyota’s in-house Connected Company.

How big is Grab today? The Malaysian-born but now Singapore-based company has its namesake app in over 100 million mobile devices, giving passengers access to over 6.6 million drivers and agents. It also has Southeast Asia’s biggest land transportation fleet, delivering over six million rides per day.