Regardless of the economic slowdown due to Covid-19 pandemic and the decline in the global venture funding, the autonomous vehicle technology companies are pumping up investments at a consistent rate since Q1-2020. The investors in the autonomous vehicles industry remained bullish recording the cumulative investment of ~$2.4 billion in the month of July, August, and September. Also, about 7 mergers and acquisitions were recorded in the J-A-S quarter. The companies that got acquired during the period were VayaVision, Intempora, Voxtel, SmartDrive, and Phantom Intelligence.
Compared to the last quarter, the AV industry has witnessed nearly a significant decline in the investment; however, M&A strategy demonstrated a steady trend. Investments for AV technology in Chinese market has increased while that in the North American and European markets were stagnant.
The largest transaction recorded in this quarter was of $1.5 billion IPO of China based XPeng Motors. It started trading publicly on NYSE in August. The company is focused on development of level 3 and above autonomous and electric vehicle models. In July, XPeng Motors has also raised $500 million in Series C funding, totalling the company’s investment to $2.1 billion. Apart from XPeng, two more companies Velodyne and Luminar Technologies focusing on LiDAR sensing technology for autonomous vehicles went public in this quarter.
Chinese companies dealing in the autonomous vehicle business led the investment deals in the month of July. iMotion Automotive Technology Co. closed the investment deal of around RMB100 million (US$14.16 million) in a series B1 round financing from CCB Suzhou Science and Technology Fund. XPeng Motors, the electric and self-driving car company from China has received the funds of $500 million, recorded as single largest transaction of the month. WeWork co-founder Adam Neuman led the $19 million Series B funding round of Israeli company GoTo Global. It is a ride sharing service provider focusing on integrating autonomy solutions in vehicles. Truck manufacturer Navistar partnered with TuSimple and acquired minority stakes in the company at undisclosed amount.
LeddarTech on July 7 announced the acquisition of Israel based perception software company VayaVision Sensing Ltd. to deliver open sensor fusion & perception platform. dSPACE, a provider of solutions for the development of connected, automated and electrically powered vehicles have acquired Intempora, a specialist in real-time development software. Velodyne LiDAR went public in this month by merging with Graf Industrial Corp. and have raised $150 million in equity from a group of institutional investors.
More than half a billion investment was recorded in the month of July and China capturing the major share of this month’s transactions. 3 M&As took place, amongst which the acquisitions of by LeddarTech and the merger of Velodyne LiDAR with SPAC for listing on NYSE were the major developments in the field of AVs.
The month of August witnessed robust investment of more than $1.6 billion in autonomous vehicle industry that included the IPO transaction of XPeng Motors that was announced on 21st August. Even in this month China attracted a major part of total investment of the month compared to other regions. AIDriving, a Shenzen based ADAS and artificial intelligence of things (AIoT) systems provider raised $14.41 million in its series C funding round. HoloMatic, another Chinese company raised an undisclosed amount from mapping company NavInfo for accelerating the development of autonomous systems for driving and parking. Furthermore, Changsha Intelligent Driving Institute has raised $14.5 million in its series D funding round for development of ADAS systems for trucks.
Japanese Tier-IV, a developer of open source software for self-driving vehicles has raised $92.3 million from Sompo Holdings for 18% stakes. $15 million was funded to San Francisco-based StreetLight Data Inc. in Series D round. South African company LightWare working on microlidar sensor technology for multiple applications including AV has raised $1.5 million seed funding to accelerate its growth.
Voxtel Inc., a LiDAR company was acquired in this month by Allegro MicroSystems, a power semiconductor technology company. This acquisition aimed at focusing on scaling each other’s capabilities for next generation ADAS system. Also, Luminar Technologies Inc. has raised $170 million in a reverse merger with Gores Metropoulos Inc. to go public.
In the autonomous driving space, the month of September recorded two acquisitions- SmartDrive and Phantom Intelligence. LeddarTech added the LiDAR capabilities of Phantom Intelligence to its portfolio on 22nd September. Omitracs acquired SmartDrive with an intent to provide end-to-end platform that optimizes safety, driver productivity and workflow.
In terms of investments, AV industry experienced a decline compared to last 2 months of the quarter. Uber Technologies Inc. and Yandex NV spined off their self-driving joint venture and invest $150 million in Yandex Self-Driving Group BV. The Sweden based annotation and perception algorithm start-up Annotell raised $6.8 million in Series A funding round led by Ernstrom & Co. LiDAR company, Ouster raised $42 million in series B funding round to expand its capabilities. Other companies in AV space that received funding in this month includes German company Phantasma Labs, Chinese iDriver Plus Technology Co., self-driving truck company TuSimple, and Israel based Blue White Robotics.