#Asia Honda just invested in Grab


Image credit: Grab.

The ride-hailing battle just gets tougher and tougher. Grab today announced a strategic investment and partnership with Japanese car maker Honda.

Grab didn’t disclose the funding terms in a statement today, but it said a memorandum of understanding with the auto giant revolves around “[collaboration] on driver education programs to promote motorbike safety, efforts to reduce traffic and environmental congestion in urban areas through rideshare, and other technological advancements.”

Grab, based in Singapore, is battling Uber on two and four wheels in 31 cities across six countries in Southeast Asia, where Grab has over 400,000 drivers. The startup is said to be valued at over US$3 billion.

The company has seen tremendous support from Japanese investors, with Softbank leading its US$750 million series F round this year and US$250 million series D in April last year.

“We welcome Honda as a shareholder and key partner on innovative mobility solutions over the long term,” says Grab president Ming Maa.

Self-driving future

The funding comes as a number of car manufacturers are developing AI and robotics for autonomous vehicles. In October, Honda unveiled a new research center, which centralizes all its AI research and development efforts.

Uber in May joined forces with Honda competitor Toyota, which is also accelerating its self-driving strategy.

Prior to that, other automakers and ride-hailing apps also struck similar partnerships. GM bought into another Uber rival, Lyft, while Volkswagen struck a deal with New York’s Gett. The VC firm co-founded by Ford chairman Bill Ford has invested in self-driving taxi service NuTonomy.

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