July 25, 2019 / 5:01 AM / a month ago

Toyota to invest $600 million in China's Didi, new JV to develop mobility services

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday it will invest $600 million in Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing as well as a new joint venture as the companies seek to develop connected and electric vehicle technologies in China.

FILE PHOTO: A Toyota logo is displayed at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

The move accelerates a trend in China which has seen automakers launch their own ride-hailing services, and ride-hailing firms such as Didi team with automakers to develop purpose-built cars for their services.

It also comes as the auto and communications industries develop the next generation of connected vehicle technologies, including self-driving and so-called vehicle-to-everything technology, with the advancement of 5G network technology.

Toyota said the new joint venture would include the Japanese automaker’s Chinese partnership with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd (GAC), and would see the companies combining services and technologies to work on fleet management, car maintenance and car rental services.

That collaboration will utilize Toyota’s connected technologies and next-generation battery electric vehicles, Toyota’s Executive Vice President Shigeki Tomoyama said in a statement.

Toyota, which has said it aims to get half of its global sales from electrified vehicles by 2025, has tapped Chinese battery makers including Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) and BYD Co Ltd to aid it in the shift to electricity-powered cars. The move is in line with global regulations and a push among automakers to develop the new-energy vehicle industry.

It has also said it would set up a joint venture to develop connected vehicles with Japanese auto parts maker Denso Corp.

TIES WITH AUTOMAKERS

Toyota and Didi on Thursday did not specify whether their collaboration will involve car design or manufacturing, which is part of Didi’s goal to ultimately develop purpose-built cars for its services.

Toyota and Didi have previously teamed up on other vehicle projects and services for Didi drivers.

Didi has also set up ventures with Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), BYD and BAIC’ new-energy vehicle unit.

Sources told Reuters in June that Didi was in talks with Nissan Motor Co Ltd and its China partner, Dongfeng Automobile Co Ltd, to form another fleet-management venture.

A source familiar with the matter also told Reuters that Chinese electric vehicle maker Lixiang, previously known as CHJ, is working with Didi to build a car model for mobility services.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing

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