The year 2020 was not so favorable for the automotive industry, as the demand and manufacturing deeply slacked since the first half of the year. However, the year was revolutionary for AV technology companies as huge investments were pumped, biggest mergers and acquisitions were recorded, and tech companies went public one after another.
This year the technology start-ups have withdrawn heavy funds from the venture capitalists to keep a hold on the opportunistic market of autonomous vehicle delivery, commercial and off-highway vehicles, industrial robotics vehicles, robotaxis, and shuttles. It was a remarkable year in the AV development, as companies like Waymo and Auto X have started self-driving vehicle services for public, while LiDAR players including Velodyne and Luminar Technologies went public along with Chinese vehicle manufacturer Xpeng Motors. Also, total of 19 Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) were recorded in this year and more than $9.2 billion funding was raised in the autonomous vehicle space.
Amazon has shown aggression in the AV space by acquiring Zoox for $1.2 billion and recently, Aurora acquired Uber’s self-driving unit ATG for $4 billion. Waymo recorded the highest investment gain of ~$3 billion this year through external funding. Didi Chuxing Technology Co. and Nuro has raised $500 million each to further expand their capabilities in the AV space. Tesla has borrowed fund of $565 million from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. to build its production plant in Shanghai. And Waymo has partnered with Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC) to open a R&D facility for autonomous trucking in California.
Monthly Analysis Investments and funding seemed to gain an upward trend again in the Autonomous vehicle space after a steep decline in last quarter.
Around 10 smaller investments with cumulative value of more than $350 million were recorded in the month of October. Applied Intuition, a company known for its autonomous vehicle simulation software, has raised $125 million in Series C funding round led by Lux Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and General Catalyst. Couple of investments such as Qcraft led by Lenovo Ventures and Luminar Technologies by Daimler did not disclosed their funding amount. Outrider, a Colorado based autonomous yard trucks developer has closed a deal of $65 million for its Series B funding round. Another AV Trucking technology company Einride AB raised $10 million from Norrsken VC. China based Tage I-Driver Technology Co. and Pittsburg based Locomation, both in commercial AV segment raised $30.7 million and $17 million respectively in their Series B funding rounds.
Moreover, the ADAS sensing technology companies including MINIEYE, AdaSky, and AEye has raised $40.7 million, $15 million, and $23 million respectively in their funding rounds. A California based radar sensor company Zadar Labs also raised $4 million seed funding in October 2020.
Total for 2 M&As were recorded in this month. Metamoto, an Israeli based autonomous vehicle simulation platform provider was acquired by its partner Foretellix to collectively enhance the virtual simulation platform for AVs and explore other business opportunities. Seegrid acquired Box Robotics on 6th of October to accelerate the enhance the development of situational awareness and predictability in the industrial self-driving vehicles.
Investments spiked in this month with recorded value of more than $1.4 billion, while only one acquisition was recorded in the AV segment.
The highest investment of the month was pumped into autonomous delivery company, Nuro of $500 million led by T. Rowe Price. TuSimple in the AV commercial business raised $350 million from Navistar and Volkswagen Group in its Series E round. China’s Pony.ai raised $267 million venture capital fund and Inceptio Technology raised $120 million from CATL. Also, California based Plus.ai raised $100 million in series C funding round to expand its capabilities in the AV development. The U.S. based start-up Gatik which is a level 4 delivery vehicle partner of Walmart has raised $25 million in Series A round.
Tier-2 and Tier-3 companies including Sense Photonics, Inc., a2z, Lunewave, Psionic, Morai, Inc., and Hypr raised a cumulative amount of more than $50 million from venture capitalists in the month of November.
Aeva Labs was acquired in this month by Special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) InterPrivate Acquisition Corp. and plans to go public in early 2021.
Aurora Innovations has closed the acquisition deal with its competitor Uber ATG for valuation of $4 billion. Uber is expected to pour $400 million into the company and hold 26% stakes. This transaction is estimated to raise the valuation of Aurora to $ 10 billion.
WeRide, a China based autonomous vehicle start-up has raised $200 million in the end to 2020 from Yutong, a Chinese bus maker. The aim of the transaction was to collectively hold the opportunity in the AV space by working together of the R&D, vehicle platforms and mobility services.
In the mid of December, an Austin based radar sensor company has raised $45 million in Series C funding round to develop digital Radar-on-chip technology for autonomous vehicle like applications.
Parallel Domain has raised $11 million on 9th of December to develop a synthetic data platform for AV simulation. In the pre-crash sensing and ADAS safety domain, PreAct Technologies raised $1.6 million funding from Alpha Bridge, elev8.vc and Sony Innovation Fund. Also, Actasys raised $5 million in its seed funding round led by Volvo Cars Tech Fund and NextGear Ventures.