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Salty Dot gets acquired by this auto dealership solutions company and Ford invests $50M into a battery recycler

Welcome to another edition of The Friday 5 with Steve Greenfield, Founder and CEO of Automotive Ventures, an auto technology advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs raise money and maximize the value of their companies.

CDK Global & Salty Dot

First up this week, big news from CDK Global, as they have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Salty Dot, a convenient, mobile-first solution that helps consumers secure the insurance they need for their vehicle seamlessly without leaving the car-buying experience. Details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Salty’s technology will further expand CDK’s suite of digital offerings and grow its total addressable market beyond the digitization of traditional dealer workflows. This new capability will also enable dealers to create a new, recurring revenue stream from within the $311 billion U.S. automobile insurance market and develop deeper consumer relationships beyond the vehicle sale.

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Salty’s insurance platform uses cutting-edge technology to build a customized, competitive, and bindable insurance quote through its top-rated carrier network. Through seamless integration with the dealer management system, the car buyer receives a text message during their purchase process with a link to a quick and easy form. Salty’s platform—driven by artificial intelligence—then selects the carrier and personalized policy based on their answers and presents it to them digitally within minutes., a Mexico City-based startup that operates a pre-owned car marketplace in Latin America — think of them as the Carvana of Latin America, has $700 million in a Series E round that more than doubles the company’s valuation to $8.7 billion.

News of this raise comes just five months after Kavak raised $485 million in a Series D at a $4 billion valuation. The company only achieved unicorn status last October.

General Catalyst led Kavak’s Series E, which brings the company’s total raised to over $1.5 billion since its 2016 inception. Tiger Global, Spruce House, D1 Capital Partners l.P., Sea, Founders Fund, Ribbit Capital, SoftBank, and others also participated in the latest financing.

Volta Trucks

In the EV space this week, electric truck startup Volta Trucks has raised 37 million euros (or $43.7 million dollars) in its latest funding round led by hedge fund Luxor Capital and including an investment by Volta’s battery supplier Proterra.

The latest funding brings Volta’s total raised to 60 million euros. Luxor also invested in the previous funding round.

Volta said the funding will be used to develop a test fleet of trucks for customers in Paris and London.

The company aims to launch production of the Volta Zero, a 16-tonne electric truck, by the end of 2022 and says it currently has an order book of 2,500 trucks worth more than 600 million euros.

Xlerate Group

In the auction space this week, the Xlerate Group has made its third acquisition in just over two months, purchasing Clark County Auto Auction.

Clark county becomes the 15th auction brand in the Xlerate family and the first in the group’s home state of Indiana.

Xlerate now has fixed-site and mobile sales in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Redwood Materials

In the battery technology space this week, Ford Motor Company is investing $50 million dollars in Redwood Materials, a battery-recycling company created by Tesla Co-founder JB Straubel, and plans to partner with the startup to eliminate waste and eventually reuse components from its impending wave of electric vehicles.

The partnership is still in its infancy but will begin with ford tapping Redwood to recycle its EV production scrap and, eventually, end-of-life EV batteries.

Redwood last week announced plans to manufacture EV battery cathodes and other components from the recycled material it receives, and Ford said it could use such components in future vehicles to create a sustainable, closed-loop production system.

Ford is investing $30 billion in electrification through 2025, with plans to bring an EV version of the F-150 pickup to market next year. It plans to spend more on EVs than internal combustion vehicles in 2023.

Wrench, Inc.

In the remote service area this week, Bridgestone Americas has purchased a 10% share in Wrench, Inc., a mobile vehicle services company.

The partnership paves the way for the companies to explore synergies in their service offerings, including pairing Bridgestone’s 2,200-plus company-owned stores with wrench’s complimentary mobile services marketplace.

Wrench’s mobile service platform offers on-site vehicle maintenance, roadside towing, and more.

The company’s users will be able to book service appointments at Firestone Complete Auto Care stores.

Existing Bridgestone customers will be able to book future mobile service appointments provided by Wrench.

Edge Case Research

In the autonomous vehicle space this week, Edge Case Research has raised a $12 million dollar Series A round, led by Yabeo Capital, and supported by existing investors Ansys, Lockheed Martin Ventures, Bluetree Allied Angels, and Liberty Mutual Insurance Strategic Ventures — and new investors reinforced ventures, Nonozukuri Ventures, and 412 Venture Fund.

Edge Case Research enables its customers to assure the safety of autonomous systems for real-world deployment. Their products deliver live safety cases backed by evidence to ensure their customers can define and measure the safety of autonomous systems in the real world.


In the commercial trucking and freight space this week, Transfix plans to go public through a merger with Spac G Squared ascend I, giving the digital freight startup an enterprise value of $1.1 billion in the latest deal shaking up the middleman freight brokerage business.

The blank-check merger would allow new york-based Transfix, which competes with bigger rivals including Uber technologies, to tap public markets for backing to expand its business of using technology to connect shippers with truckers and to expand the development of additional services, such as transportation management software.


In international news this week, Toronto-based Cardoor is preparing to expand its online car retailing platform across Canada after raising $3 million CAD in seed financing.

Framework venture partners led the round. The company did not disclose other investors in the round.

Launched in July, Cardoor offers online buying and delivery services to consumers. The company currently lists 308 vehicles for sale on its website, ranging from Land Rovers and Acuras, to BMWs and Hyundai.

The firm’s e-commerce platform can deal with trade-ins, financing, and insurance, while the company offers at-home test drives and free delivery with a 14-day money-back guarantee.


With an aim to provide clean mobility everywhere, the Netherlands-based solar electric car company, Lightyear announced that it has raised $110 million dollars in a fresh round of funding.

The current round of funding came from Cooperation Dela, one of the largest international insurers in the Netherlands.

In March, the company had raised €40.2 million euros and announced that it was going to launch ‘Lightyear One’ – its exclusive series car, by the end of 2021. However, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of funds, serial production was delayed.

But with the current round of funding, the Dutch company will gear up for mass production of its solar electric vehicle. The company now plans to launch the vehicle in 2022.


Alibaba Group has led investments worth more than $300 million into Chinese autonomous driving start-up Deeproute.Ai.

The Chinese-based start-up makes hardware and software self-driving systems for vehicles.

Deeproute.Ai runs a fleet of autonomous taxis with some operated by its partners including ride-hailing firm Caocao and automaker Dongfeng Motors. But the company is also developing technology for logistics.

Alibaba’s involvement in the funding round underscores the ambitions of China’s technology giants to get a foothold in the area of driverless cars.

The company said its long-term strategy includes developing medium-duty trucks for urban logistics, improving transit for shipments as well as freight delivery.

BridgeLinx Technologies

Pakistan-based BridgeLinx Technologies, a 9-month-old startup that operates a digital freight marketplace, has raised $10 million in what is the largest seed financing round in Pakistan.

20VC, Buckley Ventures, and Indus Valley Capital co-led the startup’s financing round. Wavemaker Partners, Quiet Capital, Truesight Ventures, Soma Capital, Flexport, and Untitled also participated in the round.

BridgeLinx Technologies is building a digital freight marketplace. The platform connects shippers — such as manufacturing companies, cement factories, textile companies — with truckers and private fleets.


Taiwan’s Gogoro will go public in the U.S. via a SPAC merger with Poema Global Holdings Corp. That values the battery-swapping pioneer at more than $2.3 billion dollars.

Founded in 2011, Gogoro makes electric scooters, batteries, and networks of vending machine-sized battery stations where drivers can swap out depleted batteries for fresh ones. In Taiwan, where its batteries power the vast majority of all-electric two-wheelers, the company operates a network of more than 2,100 battery-swapping stations that are paired with convenience stores, supermarkets, coffee shops, and other venues.

Companies to Watch

Every week we highlight interesting companies in the automotive technology space to keep an eye on. If you read my monthly industry intel report, I showcase a few companies each month, and we take the opportunity here on the Friday 5 to share some of those companies each week with you.

Today, our companies to watch are Roadstr and digital dealership system.


First up this week is Roadstr, not to be confused with the Roadster digital retailer that sold to CDK Global earlier this year.

Roadstr was created with one mission: driving real connections between real auto enthusiasts. Their focus is both global, but more importantly, local — enabling enthusiasts to connect both virtually and in reality.

Roadstr’s features are specifically tuned to the auto enthusiast’s needs, combining the authenticity and spontaneity of local events and connections with the full range of social networking features and auto content from across the world, right in the palm of your hand.

The auto enthusiast community is a very social group, and the best moments often occur in person. Start driving your passion with Roadstr, the social network for real auto enthusiasts.

You can download Roadstr on the Apple app store and Google Play.

Digital Dealership System

Our second company to watch this week is Digital Dealership System.

The Digital Dealership System is the premier digital sign and interactive kiosk solution for car dealers.

Digital solutions for car dealerships include digital service menus, service appointment boards, customer lounge tv, touch-screen kiosks, dare to compare service signs, sales leaderboards, showroom video walls, interactive touch digital signs, and car dealer outdoor led messaging.

The custom-designed, high-definition digital systems assist dealer processes, marketing exposure of dealer products, services, and specials while maximizing customer interactive engagement and staff motivation on screens throughout the modern-day auto dealership increasing bottom-line revenues, long-term customer retention, distinguished market position, and staff performance.


So that’s your weekly Friday 5, a quick wrap-up of the big deals in automotive technology over the past week.

It’s an exciting time to be in the automotive space, with a ton of deals going on. Make sure you stay tuned in each week to stay up to date on the auto industry’s technology M&A activity. I’ll keep my fingers on the pulse of deals being done, so I can share updates with you.

If you’re an early-stage automotive technology entrepreneur looking to raise money, or an entrepreneur who wants to chat about the best timing and process to sell your company to achieve the best outcome, I’d love to discuss it with you at


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Steve Greenfield
Steve Greenfield
Steve is the Founder and CEO of Automotive Ventures, an automotive technology advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs raise money and maximize the value of their companies. They also assist PE firms to conduct due diligence on automotive technology acquisitions, advise technology CEOs on strategy, and help represent sellers at the time of sale.

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