Toyota is making moves into the ride hailing space, having just invested $1 billion into Singapore-based ride hailing and sharing app Grab. What’s the context behind the automaker’s largest-ever bid on ride hailing services?

Given the popularity of peer-to-peer ride sharing platforms, it appears that Toyota isn’t taking a risk, but rather stepping on a trend that has been around for some time and could soon take over the auto industry. Modern car-sharing services like ZipCar have been making the rounds since the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until the advent of Uber and Lyft that auto brands such as BMW’s ReachNow, Ford’s GoDrive, MercedezBenz’s Car2Go, and more joined in the fray, as observed in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Auto. These brands all host fleets of cars available to users either via a membership fee or pay-per-use model.

Even new entrant Lynk & Co, Volvo’s sibling under the Geely parent brand, is approaching the Chinese market with a share-first philosophy. The company emphasizes shareability through the implementation of a dedicated in-car share button. The strategy has paid off so far, recording 6,000 preorders in just over two minutes when the 01 SUV model was offered on pre-sale in November 2017.

The only brand in Gartner L2’s study to serve more than a million mobile display ads, Toyota revved up its social channels to promote its sponsorship of the 2018 Olympics with the #TeamToyota and #LetsGoPlaces hashtags, and also captures the largest share of voice on mobile. If Toyota were to take the next step and launch its own connected cars, the automaker would be able to leverage its social and mobile prowess to reach consumers.

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