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 offering autonomous driving technologies to ride-hailing firms, sources close to the matter said Thursday, in its latest push to become a company offering not only cars but also various mobility services. The automaker is planning to supply a new driverless system to be developed with U.S. ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. to companies such as Grab Taxi Holdings Pte Ltd. of Singapore and ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.'s Ola of India, the sources said. Toyota said last month it will jointly invest $1 billion in Uber's new subsidiary to develop autonomous vehicles, together with SoftBank Group Corp. and auto parts supplier Denso Corp. SoftBank Group is the biggest shareholder in Uber and has also invested in Grab and Ola. Toyota is also a stakeholder in Grab, which has a wide range of businesses across Southeast Asia.
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.
Toyota and Volkswagen are the latest automakers to forge alliances with ride-hailing companies, deals that could see the car makers not only sell cars to drivers of the app companies but also develop jointly on-demand mobility technologies. On Wednesday, Toyota said it was making a strategic investment in Uber Technologies as part of a bigger partnership that would include leasing of its cars to Uber drivers. Car purchasers can lease their vehicles from Toyota Financial Services and cover their payments through earnings generated as Uber drivers, the Japanese car giant said in a statement. Toyota said it will also explore collaboration in a variety of other areas, such as developing in-car apps that support Uber drivers, sharing knowledge and accelerating research efforts. Uber already has an autonomous car project, though it isn't clear whether the collaboration between Toyota and Uber will include the development of these types of vehicles.
SHANGHAI - Global automakers are positioning themselves for a brave new world of on-demand transport that will require a car of the future -- hyper-connected, autonomous and shared -- and China may become the concept's laboratory. With ride-hailing services booming and car-sharing not far behind, the need for vehicles tailored to these and other evolving mobility solutions is one of the hottest topics among global automakers gathered for this week's Shanghai Auto Show. Nearly all agree that there is no better proving ground than China: Its gigantic cities are desperate for answers to gridlock and its population is noted for its ready embrace of new high-tech services. To take advantage of this, manufacturers are competing not only to sell conventional and electric vehicles in the world's biggest auto market, but also to develop new technologies and even specific interiors designed for the on-demand world. "We cannot just develop electric cars. They will have to be smart, interconnected and of course shared," Zhao Guoqing, vice president of Chinese auto giant Great Wall Motors, said on the auto show's sidelines.