In brief: Toyota is making a big bet on China's biggest ridesharing service, a move that has been highly anticipated by industry watchers. Didi will get access to the Japanese automaker's car connectivity services, as well as leasing services to help expand its fleet.
Toyota is investing $600 million into Chinese car-hailing service Didi Chuxing as a continuation of their existing partnership, infusing it with some much-needed cash for its ambitious expansion plans. This confirms an earlier Nikkei report that said the Japanese automaker was then considering a $550 million bet.
The deal will also see Didi and GAC Toyota Motor forming a joint mobility service to provide vehicle rental and maintenance services for the former's driver network. It's worth noting that the CAG group is one of the biggest Chinese atomakers and has been working with its Japanese partner for a while now.
In a press release, Didi vice president Stephen Zhu said his company is "committed to help our cities achieve new energy and smart transportation goals with partners from home and abroad," signaling a strong faith in the new partnership as a catalyst for expanding beyond China and into the world's biggest urban centers.
Toyota has been touting its connected car platform for years and backed a number of ridesharing companies such as Uber along the way. It is also a big proponent of self-driving and hybrid electric cars, and will use Didi as a testbed for their development.
In 2018, the two companies along with Pizza Hut and Amazon revealed the e-Palette, which is essentially a set of modules that can be used to build self-driving stores on wheels.
Didi acquired Uber China in a $42 billion deal in 2016 and has been receiving help from various backers like Volkswagen AG and even a $1 billion commitment from Apple. The Chinese company currently owns 80% of the local ride-sharing market and recently said it plans to open its ride-hailing platform to others, a move that is now fueled by Toyota as well.