Autonomous Mobility

Competition in self-driving car race is heating up

By Pradnya M - May 03 2021
COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly shaken the global economy while the automotive industry was at the fiercest hit. This is true for the traditional automotive sector which experienced huge losses in the first quarter of FY2020 and witnessing slow recovery since then. However, the innovative and disruptive technology segments within the automotive industry including the automation and electrification have not experienced much setback from this pandemic, apart from few time-to-market delays. 

The autonomous vehicle industry alone has recorded capital investment of $9.2 billion last year, collectively raised by start-ups and other stakeholders.

The year 2021 is expected to see a continuous growth trend, as majority of the countries have bounced back from the pandemic and have prepared for the upcoming waves. It is quite certain that the shared mobility, goods delivery trucks, medical and emergency service vehicles, and other B2B applications of AVs are expected to receive excellent traction this financial year. The burgeoning funding and R&D investments in these applications are attributing the growth in this space. Companies such as Cruise,, Waymo, Gatik, DiDi, TuSimple, Einride, NIO, WeRide are recording continuous growth and advancement in the commercial AV segment. Venture capitalists and angel investors are seeing these AV applications as the hottest and considering them under long-term portfolio, wishing for heavy returns. 

This article gives you the up-to-date trends, developments, and statistics in the self-driving industry to identify and analyze the current market status and re-define the future perspectives about the technology. 

Market Forecast

  • The passenger vehicle demand plunge by 11 percent globally in 2020 post the pandemic hit, largest ever decline in a decade; while the commercial vehicles demand witnessed decline by 6.8 percent
  • Global auto sales are expected to cross 98 million units by 2030; passenger vehicles demand expected to grow by 1.9 percent between 2020 and 2030
  • United States has the highest market penetration for ADAS vehicles with 63% and 13% for level 1 and level 2 autonomy systems, respectively. In 2019, ~77 percent of the total cars sold in United States were ADAS featured i.e., equipped with level 1 and level 2 autonomy, of which ~13 percent cars were level 2 featured
  • The trend shows that AVs for shared mobility would see large scale deployment from 2025, across big cities with connected infrastructure and with high population density. By 2025, it is anticipated that ~100 thousand robotaxis will be deployed, which is expected to grow to 1.3 million units by 2030
  • Western European region will witness highest demand for robotaxis, while China will be the single largest country  in terms of sales by 2030 


Since last year, there has been series of IPOs from the companies working in autonomous driving space hitting the market. Below are the major ones.

  • Velodyne LiDAR (Nasdaq: VLDR, VLDRW) and Luminar Technologies (NASDAQ: LAZR) from LiDAR industry went public in the second half of 2020.
  • TuSimple Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:TSP), the autonomous semi-truck maker released IPO in April 2021 to sell 27.03 million shares to raise $1.08 billion. This increased the company valuation to $8.5 billion 
  • In Aug 2020, Chinese automaker Xpeng (NYSE: XPEV) has sold 99.7 million shares raising $1.5 billion in the IPO
  • Innoviz Technologies (NASDAQ: INVZW) is the latest LiDAR company in the AV space to merge with Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) to launch an IPO in April 2021
  • Ouster started trading on NYSE on 12th March 2021 post its merger with the SPAC Colonnade Acquisition Corporation
  • AEye Inc., in Feb 2021 announced to go public through a merger with a blank-check firm backed by financial services company Cantor Fitzgerald 
  • Arbe Robotics, an Israeli based 4D Imaging Radar solutions provider has announced its merger with Industrial Tech Acquisitions, Inc., a SPAC to list on NASDAQ in Q2 or Q3 of 2021


Acquisition strategy has proven to be the most beneficial strategy in self-driving space as it has helped the big giants to enter in disruptive technology of autonomous driving. For instance, Intel has recorded huge success by acquiring Mobileye in 2017. Also, the traditional automakers have adopted acquisition strategy right from the beginning to stay ahead in the technology race. 

The below figure shows the top acquisitions that were recorded in autonomous driving industry for FY2020.

Acquisitions in Self-driving Car Industry, 2020-21

Investments/ Funding

  • Waymo raised around $3 billion in the external funding round, $2.25 billion in March 2020 followed by extending funding round of $750 million in the May 2020
  • In Jan 2021, Microsoft has joined General Motors, Honda and institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise 
  • Didi Chuxing has raised $500 million for its autonomous driving subsidiary led by SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund 2 in May 2020
  • China based Xiaopeng Motors Technology Company Ltd (Xpeng Motors) has also raised $500 million in Series C+ funding round
  • Nuro and Momenta each have received $500 million funding in their series C rounds held in Nov 2020 and March 2021, respectively. The investment in Momenta was led by SAIC Motor, Toyota and Bosch, while T. Rowe Price Associates led the funding round of Nuro.
  • Considerable funds were raised by autonomous technology focused companies such as TuSimple,, Plus, WeRide, Outrider, Gatik, and others.

Below table illustrates the investments announced this year (since Jan 2021). 

Capital Investment in Self-driving Car Industry, 2020-21

self-driving car
autonomous vehicle

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