HYUNDAI Motor Group has agreed to invest an additional US$250 million into Grab Holdings and sell a fleet of electric vehicles to the Singapore-based ride-hailing company as the automaker expands in mobility services.
Under a broadened strategic partnership between the two companies, Hyundai will start EV pilot projects with Grab in Singapore next year and collect consumer and driving data from the vehicles, Hyundai Motor group chief innovation officer Youngcho Chi said in an interview. The South Korean company is actively considering an expansion of this EV mobility service into other Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, Mr Chi said.
Hyundai's mobility strategy is a way for the company to gain greater exposure for its brand and extend its reach in Southeast Asia, a region where Japanese brands account for a majority of auto sales.
Hyundai is bolstering its presence in the mobility battleground by targeting electrified-vehicle services - it also invested in Indian car-sharing company Revv and plans to offer 200 Hyundai EV models to Grab in Singapore from 2019.
For Grab, Southeast Asia's largest cab-hailing company, Hyundai's latest investment takes its total fundraising to US$2.7 billion and places it on track to reach a targeted US$3 billion by the end of this year. The Korean automaker first invested US$25 million in Grab in January.
The partnership marks the first time Grab is buying a fleet of EVs from an automaker, joining a similar move by Didi Chuxing and Uber.
The two companies are in talks over the number of electric vehicles Grab will buy from Hyundai, Grab president Ming Maa said in an interview. Grab's objective is to "deploy at scale," Mr Maa said.
Hyundai hasn't considered using internal combustion engine vehicles for its mobility service and plans to provide different models including hybrids and fuel-cell cars to suit different markets, Mr Chi said. Hyundai plans to start its own car-sharing service from next year, with focus on EV strategy, he added.
Grab has said it will bring 200 new fast-charging electric vehicles into Singapore starting early 2019. Related to that agreement, Singapore's SP Group plans to build 1,000 electric vehicle charging points across the city-state by 2020. BLOOMBERG