NAGOYA - Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it will set up a joint venture with Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co. and invest a total of ¥64.8 billion ($600 million) in Didi and the new venture, as part of efforts to expand its business in China. The venture, to be set up as early as this fall, will offer ride-hailing drivers a range of services that include vehicle maintenance, insurance and financing. GAC Toyota Motor Co., a venture established by Toyota and China's Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., will also join the project, through which Toyota aims to promote the use of electric vehicles suitable for future mobility services in China -- the world's biggest auto market. Toyota and Didi have already cooperated on leasing vehicles to ride-hailing drivers since last year, as well as in the e-Palette project to develop electric and autonomous vehicles that can be used as mobile stores. Inc. have joined the project.
NAGOYA - Toyota Motor Corp. is considering investing up to ¥60 billion ($550 million) in Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co. in an effort to expand its business in China, sources close to the matter said Wednesday. Toyota and Didi are looking to set up a joint venture to offer mobility services, including ride-sharing in the world's largest auto market, the sources said. Didi has secured an overwhelming ride-hailing market share in China through the acquisition of Uber Technologies Inc.'s Chinese business. The Chinese ride-hailing service operator has already aligned with Toyota in the so-called e-Palette project to develop electric and autonomous vehicles that can be used as mobile stores, together with other global technology giants, including Amazon.com Inc. The move comes amid Toyota's continuing transformation into a "mobility company" that offers a wide range of services.
Everywhere you turn in the transportation industry these days, Toyota Motor Corp. already seems to be there. From batteries and self-driving vehicles to lunar rovers and ride-hailing companies, the world's second-biggest automaker is on an investment spree, pouring more than ¥300 billion into deals and partnerships in recent years. Toyota is placing bets across the board, mimicking technology investors like SoftBank Group Corp. Toyota, Volkswagen and other carmakers face an uncertain future as new technologies and business models ripple through the $2.23 trillion global auto industry. Uber Technologies Inc. has made younger buyers less interested in owning and driving cars, and Tesla Inc.'s success with electric vehicles has spurred bigger rivals to counter with their own products. All told, car sales will be only slightly higher in 2030, while new spending on mobility services will total $1.34 trillion, Accenture predicts.
Two titans of Japanese industry, Toyota Motor Corp. and SoftBank Group Corp. said Thursday they are setting up a new joint venture to develop autonomous driving technologies and other on-demand services, including food deliveries, medical care and office space. Funded with an initial investment of ¥2 billion (around $17.5 million), the new company, Monet Technologies Corp., will begin operations as early as next March. While the on-demand services will initially roll out using traditional vehicles, by 2020 the company is aiming to utilize Toyota's driverless concept vehicle, E-Palette. Both Toyota President Akio Toyoda and SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son painted the partnership as part of a broader vision to embrace new business ideas in an age of artificial intelligence. Speaking before a throng of reporters, SoftBank founder Son said that the partnership will be able to harness the synergy and strengths offered by each company.
Uber has been seeking ways to lower development costs and losses in its autonomous-vehicle unit following a fatal crash involving one of its cars earlier this year in Arizona. Last year, the Uber division spent about $750 million on self-driving car development before making cuts this year, according to people familiar with the matter. In recent months, Uber has closed its Arizona autonomous-vehicle operations and laid off about 400 test drivers, some of whom it will rehire after undergoing new training. Uber also has taken its self-driving vehicles off the roads in the San Francisco Bay Area, Pittsburgh and Toronto while investigators look into the circumstances of the Arizona crash. For ride-sharing concerns like Uber and Lyft Inc., autonomous vehicles could cut their biggest expense: paying human drivers.