Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp., the two biggest carmakers in South Korea, announced on Nov. 7 that they have decided to invest US$250 million (284 billion won) to buy stakes in Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab Inc.
Including the upfront investment of US$25 million (28.4 billion won) in January this year, Hyundai Motor has invested US$275 million (312.4 billion won) in total in Grab. The figure is the largest investment made by Hyundai and Kia in a foreign company.
Founded in 2012, Grab is the largest ride-hailing service provider in Southeast Asia and the third largest in the world. It has operations across 235 cities in eight countries throughout Southeast Asia and has completed 2.5 billion rides through its platform alone. Recently, Grab is rapidly growing to become an integrated mobility firm that offers a range of services from taxi rides to mobile payment system and food delivery. This is why Japan’s SoftBank Group and China’s Didi as well as South Korea’s SK Holdings Co. have participated in equity investment. Tech giant Microsoft has also recently decided to make an investment in Grab.
In addition to the equity investment, Hyundai and Kia will launch a new mobility project with Grab by using their electric vehicles (EVs). To this end, the three companies established a partnership for strategic investment and pilot EV programs, and Hyundai Motor Group vice chairman Chung Eui-sun and Anthony Tan, CEO and founder of Grab, met in Singapore to discuss cooperative plans for the future on Nov. 6.
With the latest investment, Hyundai and Kia plan to offer a new mobility service by using their EVs via Grab’s business platform in Southeast Asia. Grab drivers will provide a ride-hailing service with Hyundai and Kia’ EVs starting in Singapore next year. To start, Hyundai Motor will supply its 200 EVs to Grab for the first time early next year and Kia Motors will also additionally provide its EVs. The companies said that they are planning to expand the services to other Southeast Asian markets, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, after reviewing the outcome of the pilot project.
At the same time, Hyundai and Kia will work with Grab to develop specialized EV services, including maintenance and financing for EV drivers, as well as EV models optimized for the mobility service. In addition, they are planning to establish a partnership with charging infrastructure and battery companies to expand the supply of EVs in Southeast Asia.
“As one of the world’s fastest growing regions, Southeast Asia will become a new hub of EVs. Grab is the best partner to expand the supply of EVs and build the perfect EV ecosystem in the Southeast Asian market,” said Chi Young-cho, Hyundai Motor Group’s chief innovation officer and head of the Strategy & Technology Division.
Hyundai Motor has also completed an integrated response system in the global ride-hailing market through the additional investment in Grab. The company has already been carrying out a car sharing project by using the Ioniq EV in Amsterdam of the Netherlands, and has established a strategic partnership with India-based car sharing company Revv, U.S.-based mobility service company Migo, China-based last-mile transportation battery sharing service provider Immotor and Australia-based P2P car sharing start-up Car Next Door. Kia Motors has launched a car sharing service under the new mobility service brand WiBLE in Madrid, Spain, as well as South Korea.