Toyota Motor Corp., Asia's biggest carmaker, is preparing for a potential future where people don't buy cars.

That's behind the hefty investments the company has made in ride-hailing providers, most prominently the $1 billion it poured into Southeast Asian leader Grab. Toyota sees the partnership as an opportunity to get Grab to buy more of its cars and push services like insurance and maintenance, said Shigeki Tomoyama, the global head of Toyota's connected car division, in an interview this month in Nagoya.

The pact with Singapore-based Grab forms the Asia prong of Toyota's strategy to tie up with the strongest ride-hailing companies in each region, and then integrate its hardware and software into their services. Toyota is seeking an edge over rivals as carmakers position for an uncertain future in which automated driving and the sharing economy threaten to displace the traditional model of vehicle ownership.