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.
To start off today’s segment, Automotive Ventures portfolio company Car Capital Technologies, has closed a $150 million, three-year secured credit facility and a $6.125 million equity investment from funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group.
This milestone transaction provides car capital with the debt needed to continue to expand their rapidly growing business, fund more dealers, and increase the number of underserved consumers who want to purchase a vehicle.
Through their proprietary, fully digital platform, Dealer Electronic Auto Loan System (or DEALS), Car Capital allows their dealer partners to instantly approve 100% of their customers, regardless of credit history. With DEALS, dealers have the ability to make 24/7 approval decisions based on the economics of each unique car and consumer. And dealer partners get back-end profit based on performance, not a minimum portfolio size.
ALD Automotive and LeasePlan, two of the world’s largest fleet leasing companies, announced they will combine forces to create a leading global mobility player that would further the digital transformation of the industry.
ALD will acquire 100% of LeasePlan from TDR Capital in a deal valued at €4.9 billion.
The combined companies would create an entity with 3.6 million cars under management. The agreement is expected to close by the end of 2022.
ALD is a global mobility solutions provider of full-service leasing and fleet management services across 43 countries. Its client base includes large corporations, small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs), professionals, and private individuals.
Peer-to-peer car-sharing startup Turo has released its filing to become a publicly-traded company in the U.S., a process the company began confidentially in August.
Turo, which was founded in 2010 and has been compared to Airbnb for cars, allows private car owners to rent out their vehicles through the startup’s website or app. The company boasts 85,000 active hosts and 160,000 active vehicle listings in over 7,500 cities as of September 30, 2021.
Car owners get the chance to offset ownership costs, and users get the benefit of affordable short-term rentals at a time when rental car prices are increasing due to pandemic-induced supply chain issues. Challenges in the traditional car rental industry have certainly allowed Turo to gain some market share, despite steep competition, but that popularity has come with a cost at times, a reading of the risk factors portion of the S1 shows.
StoreDot, the pioneer of extreme fast-charging battery technology for electric vehicles, has announced the first close of its Series D funding round of up to $80 million dollars, the majority of which have already been secured.
The lead investor is the fast-growing flagship Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer, VinFast, which plans to scale up manufacturing and deploy StoreDot’s extreme fast charging in future EV architectures.
Participants in the round include BP Ventures and Golden Energy Global Investment.
The funds will be used to complete StoreDot’s research and development for its silicon-dominant extreme fast charge battery cells for electric vehicles and continue its progress on extreme energy density cells based on solid-state technology for future deployment.
This funding also enables the company to ramp up its California-based R&D center and commence scale-up operations in key global locations, in readiness for full mass production of cells in 2024.
In further EV news this week, BMW i Ventures announced a lead investment in HeyCharge, the German start-up democratizing access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in apartment complexes, office buildings, and other infrastructure locations. HeyCharge was in Y Combinator’s summer 2021 batch of start-ups.
Traditionally, EV chargers require an app or RFID card and a proper internet connection to begin activation. Yet most underground garages currently do not have an internet access point, or the ability to install such boxes.
With 56% of Germany and 46% of Europe living in apartment buildings, and 37% of renters in the U.S., this is an obvious next step for the expansion of EV charging stations, but the current reliance on internet connectivity is holding scalability back. That’s why HeyCharge has made its mission to help get a cheap, commercial, scalable solution to this section of the population.
A multi-million-dollar investment from decathlon capital partners will support the industry leadership of Zubie, as it expands its fleet-management platform and launches new service capabilities.
Details of the multi-million-dollar funding package were not disclosed.
Zubie provides an innovative connected-car platform as well as GPS tracking and fleet management software. The company’s rental connect product, the first fleet-management solution dedicated to serving the rental-car industry, provides real-time fuel and odometer readings, which significantly speeds up the check-in and check-out process for rental operators. Zubie also recently released Location Link, designed to assist in vehicle recovery efforts.
In the connected car space this week, automotive technology supplier Aptiv has agreed to buy software firm Wind River from private equity firm TPG for $4.3 billion in cash as it seeks to capitalize on a surge in spending by automakers to digitalize their cars.
The all-cash deal will expand Aptiv’s footprint in an area that is fast becoming the next battleground for automakers, which are spending billions of dollars to enable over-the-air updates and add smartphone-like features.
Once owned by Intel, Wind River develops software and cloud systems for several industries such as automotive, aerospace, defense, industrial, medical, and telecommunications. Last year it generated revenue of about $400 million.
In autonomous news this week, Magna International has acquired the technology, IP, and assets of Optimus Ride, a startup that was trying to commercialize electric autonomous shuttles. As part of the deal, Magna has hired more than 120 employees of Optimus Ride.
The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Magna aims to leverage the tech and expertise from Optimus Ride to beef up its efforts in advanced driver assistance systems — technology that is in high demand.
Magna has been keen to build out its ADAS offerings; last year the company tried to acquire Swedish automotive tech company Veoneer but was outbid by Qualcomm.
Wheel Pros, a designer, manufacturer, and distributor of proprietary branded aftermarket vehicle enhancements for light trucks, SUVs, passenger cars, and ATVs backed by Clearlake Capital Group, has acquired Throtl, an aftermarket eCommerce platform for automotive and off-roading enthusiasts.
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Throtl is a digital destination for automotive and off-roading enthusiasts. By using its connections with automotive influencers and access to a virtual library of digital content, Throtl has created a community gathering spot and home that enables automotive and off-roading enthusiasts. Throtl also empowers the buying power and convenience for its followers by offering a suite of aftermarket performance product offerings through their online Throtl marketplace.
In international news this week, Estonian competitor to Uber, Bolt, announced a fresh financing round of €628 million at a valuation of €7.4 billion, after raising €600 million last August.
The round, led by Sequoia Capital and Fidelity Investments, with participation from Whale Rock Capital Management, Owl Rock Capital, D1, G Squared, Tekne, Ghisallo, and others, brings the total raised by the nine-year-old startup to €1.8 billion.
Bolt, founded in 2013, has become arguably Europe’s first super-app.
Bolt’s top-line numbers are impressive: since October 2020 the company has grown from having a presence in 200 cities to over 400 across Europe and Africa; from 2,000 employees to over 3,000; from 50 million passengers to 100 million globally; and from a valuation of around €2 billion to €7.6 billion today.
In further international news this week, Carsome, which operates a southeast Asian used-car online marketplace, has raised almost $300 million dollars led by Temasek and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.
65 equity partners and Seatown Holdings International — both backed by Temasek — and the Qatar Investment Authority are among investors that participated in the round.
Malaysia’s most valuable technology startup is planning an IPO in the U.S. Later this year.
Founded in 2015, the company has expanded into Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore. The company works with more than 8,000 dealers and handles more than 100,000 transactions per year.
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, we have two companies to watch: Awake Mobility and EyeGage.
Our first company to watch this week is Awake Mobility.
Awake Mobility provides vehicle insights for buses and analyzes the health status of your fleet. They eliminate information asymmetry between departments and reveal the current as well as future vehicle status to enable data-driven maintenance decisions.
Awake Mobility’s dashboard and mobile app are used by the workshop, control center, drivers, and management, who all receive tailored insights to optimize their daily operations.
Check out awake mobility at www.AwakeMobility.de.
Our second company to watch this week is EyeGage.
EyeGage is revolutionizing access to drug screening technology via intelligent mobile eye scans.
Substance abuse costs the U.S. $600 billion dollars annually, and 70% of substance abusers are employed full time. EyeGage allows companies to stay ahead of accidents, which saves time, money, and lives, while reducing the negative impacts of substance abuse on families and communities.
Check out EyeGage at www.EyeGage.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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