Hyundai joins Didi, SoftBank to invest in SEA ride-hailing firm Grab

Grab taxi. Photo: Bloomberg

Hyundai Motor Company, South Korea’s largest automaker, has made a strategic investment in Singapore-based Grab, which provides on-demand transportation and mobile payment services in Southeast Asia.

Part of a Series G financing round – its latest and largest capital raising exercise to date – the deal will see Hyundai Motor establish a partnership with Grab and expand its future mobility services in Southeast Asia.

Other significant investors in the Series G round Chinese transport network connector Didi Chuxing, SoftBank and Toyota Tsusho.

The value and financial terms of Hyundai’s investment in Grab are undisclosed. Data compiled by Crunchbase indicates that Grab has raised $4.135 billion in funding, with its latest known investment being a $700 million debt financing facility it announced in October 2017.

In a statement, Dr Young Cho Chi, Chief Innovation Officer and head of Strategy & Technology Division of Hyundai Motor, said, “Grab’s expertise in the Southeast Asian market coupled with Hyundai’s eco-vehicle leadership will bring innovative services to customers. We will continue expanding collaboration with leading mobility service providers in the world.”

The strategic partnership will “help Hyundai explore new opportunities in the sharing economy and enhance its capability to lead future mobility” in the ASEAN market. Additionally, Grab and Hyundai will collaborate to develop and offer new services to customers in the region.

One of these new services is a new mobility service platform that will utilise Hyundai’s eco-friendly models such as the IONIQ Electric, which offers three electrified powertrain-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure battery electric in a single body type. This car is used in Hyundai’s company-operated electric car sharing service in metropolitan Amsterdam and the Stadtauto car-sharing service in the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Hyundai is exploring the possibility of building a car plant in Southeast Asia, possibly in Indonesia or Vietnam. Its interest in Southeast Asia has grown following since diplomatic friction between Beijing and Seoul that impacted its business operations and capital flows in 2017.

Earlier this month, Hyundai also entered into a self-driving technology partnership with Silicon Valley startup Aurora, in a shift away from its usual preference for developing technology in-house. In January 2017, it partnered WaiveCar to launch a car-sharing program that runs on advertising money, using IONIQ Electric model in the U.S.

The decision to back Grab aligns with these other moves by Hyundai. Grab already operates one of the largest transportation networks in Southeast Asia, where it competes with other transport service operators like Uber Technologies and Jakarta-based Go-Jek.

The Grab mobile app has been reportedly downloaded onto more than 77 million mobile devices, with a fleet comprising over 2.3 million drivers. Grab currently offers private car, motorbike, taxi, and carpooling services across eight countries and 168 cities in Southeast Asia.

“As we move into the next stage of Grab’s growth, we look forward to collaborating closely with Hyundai to continue innovating new mobility solutions for Southeast Asia. We are pleased to welcome Hyundai to our global network of strategic partners, and we are confident that we have an alliance of strong partners to push forward into Grab’s next phase of long-term growth,” said Anthony Tan, Group CEO and Co-founder of Grab.

Charts: Paul Whang

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