VC investments in auto-tech companies up 250%, trucking platforms lead race

Topics venture capital

Venture Capital investments in auto-tech companies rose nearly 250 per cent during the first half of the year to $501 million and nearly 31 per cent in deal terms. Major chunk of the money was attracted by trucking platforms, followed by passenger car market places, self drive cars and bikes, and electric vehicles.

Investors and companies say given the rise of electric cars, autonomous vehicles, ride-hailing services and other emerging technologies and transportation business models investors, not only funds, even automakers, are participating in the race for investing or acquiring autotech.

As technology disruptions continue to challenge the business models of incumbent manufacturers and suppliers, in an effort to stay competitive, they are increasingly exploring inorganic opportunities in traditionally unorthodox quarters. 

A CEO of an automaker said that soon the automotive sector will witness a technology disruption lead by startups.

“We, as firms, know which technology succeeds and which one fails so we won’t try. But startups don’t have this differentiation and they will keep on trying each and every thing. At one point of time, the technology which would have  proved a failure would succeed and revolutionise the industry. This is the disruption I am talking about.” He  said start-ups will create new business models, customer solutions and technology paradigms.

Venturel Capital firms have pumped in $501 million as Seed to Series F investments in companies less than 10 years old in the first half of 2019, as against $140 million in 19 deals during the same period last year. The investments during the first half of 2019 was also higher by 12.33 per cent compared with the entire 2018 period. Last year VC firms invested $446 million across 38 deals, according to Venture Intelligence data.

Nearly half of the money was received by trucking platforms including BlackBuck and Rivigo. This segment alone attracted $265 million across 10 deals.

Trucking industry, which has been mostly unorganised, is set to undergo a massive transformation and is at an inflection point where operators are looking forward to adopt technology and so are (small) exporters and importers. Digital trucking platforms are attracting more business in recent times.

In India, most activity has been in the long-haul freight marketplace segment with startups aiming to enable faster transactions, efficient spot pricing, standardised service levels and agent disintermediation. According to a report by Avendus Capital, while a conservative 2 per cent commission rate assumption yields a $0.04 billion market opportunity today, it is likely to grow to $0.74 billion by 2020.

This was followed by Car marketplace companies, like Cardekho, Cars 24 and others that have attracted $252 million across 11 deals. Selfdrive cars and bikes segment including Bounce, Zoomcar has attracted $164 million across nine deals.

While electric vehicles have been making headlines, this segment witnessed seven deals with nearly $151 million being invested. Some of of the major deals include Ola Electric Mobility, Ather among others.

Ride Hailing and Fleet Management segments have managed to attract $62 million (across 9 deals) and $37 million (across 5 deals), respectively during the first half of 2019.

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