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Sharing Economy

Toyota eyes $550m investment in Chinese ride-hailer Didi

Automaker also considers setting up a new mobility service in China

Toyota has been collaborating with Chinese ride-hailing leader Didi Chuxing on self-driving cars. Now it is considering buying a stake in the company.

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor is considering buying a 60 billion yen ($548.6 million) stake in China's biggest ride-hailing service, Didi Chuxing, Nikkei learned Wednesday.

The Japanese automaker is also weighing setting up a new mobility service in cooperation with Didi Chuxing.

Toyota has invested in ride-hailing companies around the world as it promotes mobility services. It hopes to gain a foothold in the business in China, the world's biggest car market.

Didi Chuxing, founded in 2012, became China's top ride-hailing service by buying out Chinese peers and the local unit of U.S. rival Uber Technologies.

The Chinese company partnered with Toyota in ride-hailing last year, and in the development of e-Palette, a self-driving car that also doubles as a shop on wheels. The two companies have also conducted tests on connected cars.

Toyota, which is part of a consortium set up by Didi to develop car-sharing services that use electric vehicles, will invest in the Chinese company to strengthen this collaboration. The envisioned mobility service is expected to lease vehicles to Didi drivers.

Toyota is forming more tie-ups with companies from other industries in hopes of becoming a "mobility company" that reaps profit not only from automaking but from services. Following its investment of $500 million in Uber, Toyota recently decided to invest $400 million in a new venture that will be spun off from the U.S. company to develop self-driving vehicles.

In addition, Toyota has invested $1 billion in Grab, the biggest ride-railing service in Southeast Asia, and is promoting insurance and maintenance services involving connected cars.

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