For about a decade, investors have been pouring an increasing amount of money into automotive startups. In 2018, these investments totalled US$27.5 billion. That is 30 percent higher than the previous year, but twice the level of 2015 and 20 times that of 2010, according to consulting firm Oliver Wyman.
As revolutionary automotive technologies move closer to mass commercialization, investors are becoming more selective, often funnelling investment dollars to startups with track records of success. The trends guiding investment in 2020 are go electric, go autonomous, or go ride-hailing.
Ride-hailing companies account for the top five among the list of highly funded startups globally — Uber and Lyft in the US, Didi in China, Grab in Singapore, and Ola in India — with US$63.2 billion in startup funding cumulatively. Of that, US$47.6 billion is divided between the three behemoths in the space — Uber, Didi, and Grab.
And while the timeline for deploying fully autonomous vehicles keeps getting readjusted, that hasn't slowed growth in the automotive startup ecosystem. Companies are still working toward the goal of level 5 autonomy, while many others are tackling challenges around electric vehicles, cybersecurity, processor hardware, and other pain points in the automotive industry.
Though many of the startups represent a challenge to legacy automakers, they are also crucial to the automotive industry as they represent a bridge to the next generation of mobility. As a result, some automakers are among those purchasing direct stakes in startups.
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