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Toyota unit invests in Grab to power big data push

Grab to share driving data with Toyota to improve car services aimed at drivers on Grab's platform

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The iKaaz team will join Grab’s research and development centre in Bangalore, India.

Singapore

GRAB Inc and a unit of the Toyota Motor Corporation on Wednesday announced a collaboration targeted at Grab drivers, rather than towards users of the ride-sharing platform.

While the previously disclosed talks between Uber and ComfortDelGro, which operates Comfort and CityCab taxis, revolved around fleet vehicle management and booking software solutions, the collaboration between Grab and Toyota will focus on data analysis and data-sharing to give drivers improved access to connected car services in areas including insurance, financing, and vehicle maintenance.

In a statement, Grab Inc said that it has received an investment from Toyota Tsusho Corporation, which is the group's sole general trading company, through its six billion yen (S$74 million) Next Technology Fund. Grab said in response to queries that it would not disclose the amount invested by Toyota's unit.

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However, it added that it aims to raise a total of US$2.5 billion from the latest round of funding, and had previously announced a US$2 billion investment from Didi Chuxing and SoftBank Group Corp last month.

Grab also added that it is the first investment made by the Next Technology Fund, which was set up by Toyota Tsusho in April this year to explore opportunities in innovative technologies, products, and services in every sector that the company operates in.

Grab said separately that it has also signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Financial Services Corporation, and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Co Ltd. Together, they will collaborate on a data-sharing and data analysis programme focused on enhancing driver access to connected car services. This means that the pilot programme uses big data to analyse driver behaviour in order to offer solutions that are better suited to their needs.

This will provide Grab drivers better access to services including user-based insurance, financing programmes, and predictive maintenance, which will improve the driving experience on Grab's platform and reduce their cost burden.

"For instance, data which allows predictive maintenance or insurance schemes tailored to a driver's driving behaviour can help them save costs," it explained.

These and other connected car services will be offered on the Toyota Mobility Service Platform, which was established last year to collaborate with various service providers and support mobility services.

To collect the necessary data on the behaviour of Singapore drivers for the pilot programme, Grab will share data on the driving patterns of 100 Toyota cars which are currently in Grab's fleet. These 100 cars refer to private Grab rental cars deployed for GrabCar, and do not include taxis.

The driving data will be captured by Toyota's data-transmission driving recorder, TransLog, which is being installed in Toyota vehicles since last month. Toyota's team will analyse the dataset, and then offer recommendations on how Grab drivers can optimally take advantage of connected car services on the Toyota Mobility Service Platform based on their findings.

Grab added that the initiative is still in its early days, and did not disclose further details about the programme when asked.

Responding to queries on privacy and data protection, Grab said that while there are numerous benefits to data-sharing in the transport industry, protecting the privacy of its drivers is also important to them.

Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation, said: "Through this collaboration with Grab, we would like to explore new ways of delivering secure, convenient and attractive mobility services to our fleet customers in South-east Asia."