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Toyota plans to invest $600m in Didi Chuxing

By Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-26 07:08
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A Didi self-driving car on display during an industry expo in Beijing. [Provided to China Daily]

Didi Chuxing announced on Thursday that Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corp will invest $600 million in it, a move which is expected to fund the loss-making Chinese ride-hailing company's further expansion in the transportation sector.

Under the partnership, the two sides will establish a joint venture to provide vehicle-related services, including car rental and maintenance, for ride-hailing drivers on Didi's platform. The move came as Didi strives to ensure an adequate supply of cars and drivers to improve its services.

Stephen Zhu, senior vice-president of Didi, said: "We look forward to combining Didi's expertise in artificial intelligence-based large-scale mobility operations and Toyota's leading connected vehicle technology to build a next-generation intelligent transportation framework for sustainable cities."

According to him, the Beijing-based company is committed to helping cities achieve new energy and smart transportation goals with partners from home and abroad.

Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota executive vice-president responsible for connected areas, said: "I am delighted that we are strengthening our collaboration-which utilizes Toyota's connected technologies and next-generation energy-with Didi, China's mobility service market leader. Looking ahead, we will work with Didi to develop services that are more attractive, safe and secure for our customers in China."

The move also marks an extension of Didi's mobility plus automotive industry alliance strategy. Last April, Didi launched a cross-sector alliance with top Chinese and international carmakers, including FAW, Dongfeng, BAIC, Geely, BYD, Toyota, Volkswagen and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.

The alliance is aimed to create an open platform for automobile solutions, as new energy, artificial intelligence technology and shared mobility are expected to reshape the transportation sector.

Jia Xinguang, former chief analyst of China Automobile Industry Consulting, said the global automobile industry is very anxious to catch up with new technological trends, with Chinese carmakers particularly afraid of falling behind.

"Befriending tech companies including Didi can help them know the pioneering applications of AI in the automobile sector," Jia said. "For Didi, it is a good way to find enough supply of cars at lower costs."

Didi has been putting safety at the top of its agenda for more than a year after two female passengers were killed while using its "hitch" service. The two incidents triggered the suspension of some of its most lucrative businesses.

As some worry over whether Didi can make a profit, the seven-year-old company is now stepping up its push to seize new growth opportunities including car financing and more partnerships with carmakers.

Didi and Toyota, which announced their cooperation last January, have piloted vehicle-related services for Didi ride-hailing drivers, utilizing Toyota Mobility Services Platform's intelligent analysis capabilities to provide drivers with quality automobile maintenance support and safe driving guidance.

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