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Which AV trucking firm goes public through SPAC deal? Which Calif. start up is now the world’s largest hydrogen retailer?

Welcome to this episode 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.

We’re out here in Las Vegas for Used Car Week and the NAVIcon Conference. It’s been a great week, with a ton of great speakers and relevant content for the industry, and we had six outstanding companies pitch for the right to win the NAVIcon Cup. 

We’ll have more news on the NAVIcon Cup winner on next week’s Friday 5.

With that, let’s get right into this week’s deals.

Embark Trucks

In IPO news this week Autonomous trucking firm Embark Trucks began trading on the Nasdaq exchange after completing its merger with a special-purpose acquisition company Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp II.

The company, which is trading under the ticker symbol “EMBK,” is valued at $5 billion dollars and raised more than $600 million dollars in proceeds from the sale.

Embark’s stock fell 12% on the first day of trading.

Gett

In SPAC news this week, Gett is merging with a special-purpose acquisition company in a deal that would take the corporate-transportation platform public with a roughly $1.1 billion dollar valuation.

Started more than a decade ago as a ride-hailing competitor to Uber Technologies LLC and Lyft, Gett now focuses on streamlining a company’s ride-hailing, taxi and limousine booking options around the world into one platform. It says doing so saves customers time and money. Gett now joins with companies such as Lyft and Indian ride-hailing operator Ola to offer many different services.

London-based Gett is combining with SPAC Rosecliff Acquisition Corp. I.

Gett is marketing itself as a practical solution for global companies to transport workers rapidly, particularly with many still working from home at least part-time during the coronavirus pandemic. The company now works with roughly a quarter of Fortune 500 companies, including Apple and The Coca-Cola Company.

Carketa

Carketa, the Utah-based developer of SaaS applications for the automotive industry, announced it closed a $6M Series Seed Financing led by Origin Ventures and Crosslink Capital with additional funding from Hack VC, Lancaster Ventures, and I2BF Global Ventures.

Carketa, founded in 2019, is focused on redefining the used car selling experience. Their mission is to help independent and franchise automotive dealers optimize every aspect of their dealerships by selling more vehicles in less time, for more profit.

Carketa co-founder Jason L Berry also owns Action Auto, one of Utah’s fastest-growing independent car dealerships. Carketa was initially formed to improve the reconditioning process to simply sell more cars per month.

Carketa is revolutionizing dealers’ current processes while tightly coupled with the Carketa Condition Report, a 200+ point inspection system detailing a vehicle’s current condition.

FirstElement Fuel

FirstElement Fuel, which began as a California start-up with a vision to establish a hydrogen refueling network and has grown to be the world’s largest hydrogen retailer, closed a $105 Million Series D funding round.

The capital comes in from Air Water Inc., MUFG, Nikkiso Clean Energy & Industrial Gases, and Japan Infrastructure Initiate as FirstElement Fuel is actively executing on its plan to build out its California Hydrogen Network from 31 True Zero Stations to 80 stations by 2024. At least 12 of the 80 stations will be capable of refueling heavy-duty trucks in addition to light-duty cars.

FirstElement has received over $125 Million in public funding from the California Energy Commission, the South Coast AQMD, and the Bay Area AQMD.

Inspiration

In the EV infrastructure space this week, Inspiration wants to help commercial fleets go electric, and it has already started by financing electric mobility company Revel’s ride-hail fleet of blue Teslas. The startup, which finances electric vehicles and has plans to build, own and operate the corresponding charging infrastructure, came out of stealth on Wednesday with an initial $200 million in capital commitment.

The funding comes from ArcLight Capital Partners, a venture fund that invests in energy infrastructure. The funding is a platform company investment, one that allows Inspiration to use that money to invest in infrastructure assets, like vehicles and charging solutions, as well as for general corporate purposes.

The company, which has been operating in stealth mode since the end of Q1 this year, is in discussions with several other investors to raise more money needed to continue financing vehicles and other infrastructure-related assets, like energy systems like solar that power charging infrastructures, energy storage systems and real estate.

TriEye

In Autonomous Vehicle technology this week, Israeli startup TriEye has raised $74 million to commercialize a type of sensing technology that can be used to help autonomous and driver assistance systems to see better in adverse conditions.

This latest round of funding was led by M&G Investments and Varana Capital, with the participation of Samsung Ventures, Tawazun SDME SDF, Deep Insight, Allied Group, and Discount Capital as well as existing investors Intel Capital, Porsche Ventures, and Grove Ventures. The round brings TriEye’s total funding to $96 million.

The technology uses short-wave infrared (or SWIR), which refers to a wavelength range that is outside the visible spectrum. While SWIR sensing is not new, it has mostly been restricted to the aerospace and defense industries due to its high cost. TriEye says it has made engineering breakthroughs that have driven down the cost enough to compete with regular cameras that can be found in a mobile phone or vehicle today, and to outperform other types of sensors on the market.

SWIR brings an additional layer of information to existing vision systems by letting people see “beyond the visible.”

​​Kodiak Robotics

​​Kodiak Robotics, the self-driving trucking company, has raised $125 million in an oversubscribed Series B fundraising round for a total of $165 million raised to date.

The round includes investments from SIP Global Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Battery Ventures, CRV, Muirwoods Ventures, Harpoon Ventures, StepStone Group, Gopher Asset Management, Walleye Capital, Aliya Capital Partners, and others. Recent investments previously announced include Bridgestone Americas and BMW i Ventures.

Kodiak is building the industry’s most advanced technology stack purpose-built specifically for long-haul trucks. The company will use the Series B funds over the next 12 months to double employee headcount by adding at least 85 new people to the team, expand autonomous service capabilities from coast-to-coast, and add a minimum of 15 new trucks for a total of at least 25 autonomous vehicles.

Mitra Future Technologies

In Battery Technology this week, Social Capital is leading a $20 million funding round for Mitra Future Technologies, a Silicon Valley company aiming to more efficiently make the components needed for rechargeable batteries.

The startup hopes to use machine learning to address the challenge of producing electric-vehicle battery components outside China.

The $20 million investment is the first significant fundraising round, or Series A, for the startup, which goes by Mitra Chem. The company didn’t disclose its valuation. Other investors include Taiwanese billionaire Richard Tsai and climate-focused Earthshot Ventures.

Founded earlier this year, Mitra Chem is focused on producing vital lithium-ion battery parts such as cathodes in North America. The company initially plans to work on producing a cathode—the side of a battery that absorbs electrons when it is generating power—that uses more of the metal iron and less of scarce, pricey materials nickel and cobalt. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and others in the industry have touted iron-based batteries as the future because they say they are cheaper and safer.

Mitra Chem joins other startups in aiming to whittle away at China’s dominance in the battery industry. The concentration of battery production in China due to the country’s low costs and chemical-industry expertise is a concern for U.S. policy makers and executives aiming to accelerate domestic electric-vehicle production.

Clutch

In international news this week, Clutch, Canada’s first online car retailing platform, has raised CAD $100 million Series B equity financing to provide Canadians with an unparalleled, online experience for buying pre-owned cars.

This most recent financing round is led by D1 Capital Partners with participation from Flight Deck Capital, Canaan Partners, Upper90, Real Ventures, GFC, BrandProject LP, and FJ Labs.

Since 2016, Clutch has been focused on delivering the best customer experience for car buying in Canada. Its fully-vertically integrated business model ensures that each car undergoes a rigorous 210-point inspection and is reconditioned to the highest standard by its team of in-house mechanics.

Clutch saves customers hours of time by avoiding endless trips to the dealership or uncomfortable meetings with strangers in parking lots. The seamless end-to-end online process provides customers with detailed, high-resolution 360° photos of each vehicle, a free instant CarFax report and access to a wide range of financing options without having to leave the comfort of your home.

Finally, Clutch offers complete peace of mind with a 10-day money back guarantee so customers can be sure the car fits in the routine of their everyday lives.

Tevva Electric Truck

Finally, British electric truck startup Tevva Electric Trucks has raised $57 million dollars in its latest funding round to ramp up production at its new London plant and deliver its first vehicles to customers by the end of 2022.

Tevva has now raised more than $90 million dollars.

The British truck maker will have two zero-emission 7.5 tonne models available for customers – a battery-electric model with a range of 160 miles, and an electric truck with a small reserve hydrogen fuel cell to boost its range to 310 miles if needed.

The backup hydrogen fuel cell would provide customers with greater flexibility in the event any of their trucks need to travel further.

As hydrogen fuelling infrastructure is still in its infancy, Tevva can provide the fuel as a service to customers.

The company expected most customers would opt for the reserve hydrogen fuel cell because they were wary of the limited range of a pure electric model.

So with that, Let’s Transition To Our Companies To Watch!

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 Five to share some of those companies each week with you.

Today, we have two companies to watch: Block Harbor Cybersecurity and Light.co

Block Harbor Cybersecurity

First up, we have Block Harbor Cybersecurity.

Established in 2014 in the wake of highly publicized automotive exploits, Block Harbor was founded on the basis that the automotive industry’s biggest need would be services to support vehicle cybersecurity.

Block Harbor Cybersecurity is an expert at detailing and executing complicated projects with tight deadlines, especially as it pertains to securing cyber-physical systems.

Their area of focus is automating repeated tasks in vehicle cybersecurity engineering to ensure vehicles are secure and stay secure.

Block Harbor leverages the experience we’ve gained over the years to build great solutions in automotive cybersecurity to keep mobility safe.

Light.co

Our second company to watch this week is Light.co

Light is a depth-sensing and perception technology company focused on providing automobiles with the ability to see better than humans.

Light’s Clarity product is a camera-based perception platform that sees every 3D structure in the road from 10cm to 1,000m, no matter what it is — measuring depth with more than 3x the range and 20x the detail-per-second of best-in-class systems available today.

Light provides dependable near and long-range depth information required for machines to make proactive decisions as their environment changes.

Light is designed to accommodate a range of customer needs — including functional, cost, and design. They also leverage industry standard hardware and existing supply chains.

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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 steve@automotive.ventures.

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Besides having an outstanding, extremely talented, and hardworking team up here at the studio, I greatly appreciate the valuable role that CBT News plays in the automotive industry.

Every day, I eagerly look forward to my morning email from CBT News to ensure I’m getting the most up-to-date and relevant information on the industry.

I encourage you to tune in to CBT News to ensure that you’re getting the automotive news that matters.


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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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