Another AV simulation funding. Toyota's startup moves analyzed. Autotech's $120M fund.
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Toyota has become the latest OEM to carve out a dedicated venture unit, joining longer-tenured corporate VC (CVC) programs like GM Ventures and BMW i Ventures as well as newer units like JLR's InMotion and Scania Growth Capital.

Dubbed Toyota AI Ventures, the new arm will slot in under Toyota Research Institute (TRI), hewing closely to its parent's research focus areas of AI, cloud & data, robotics, and AVs.

We used our social graph tool to break down Toyota's startup bets to date, with green lines representing investments and red lines indicating acquisitions:

We also used our data to extract a few insights:
  • Electrification gap: The maker of the world's best-selling hybrid has shied away from external investments in EV startups. This mirrors its internal strategy that was originally more bullish on fuel-cell tech than full vehicle electrification, and has recently reversed course. Toyota's lone EV bet since 2012 was its stake in Chargepoint's Series D in May 2012 (not pictured here is Toyota's $50M Tesla investment in 2010).
  • Accelerating pace: Excluding Chargepoint, all of the other disclosed deals pictured have taken place since December 2015, as Toyota has dived headlong into private markets like other OEMs.
  • AI spotlight: Given the new venture arm's focuses (and name), it's not surprising that Toyota/TRI has been an active investor in AI and AV startups, including Preferred Networks, Nauto, Slamcore, and others. As an expansion of TRI's investment mandate, the CVC will assume its parent's positions in three of these startups, boxed in red above.
  • Robotics focus: Robotics and AI applications in the field (both within and outside of auto) have long been of interest for TRI and Toyota generally. This emphasis has also extended to the private markets, with deals like Toyota's Jaybridge acqui-hire and Intuition Robotics stake.
See our research portal for the full analysis.

Looking ahead, Toyota AI Ventures will start with an initial $100M in capital for early-stage investments. Like most CVCs, the firm's investments will prioritize strategic goals over outright financial return. Note the prominent goal of accessing "scarce talent", a crucial issue that has motivated other OEM investments like Ford's Argo deal.

For more on corporate venturing, see our deep dive on the history of CVCs, and stay tuned for our upcoming H1'17 corporate VC report.

Trucking tech on track for $1B year

Trucking tech startups continue to see larger financings in 2017, with Transfix raising a $42M Series C led by NEA. Developments are coming rapid-fire both among early-stage startups and larger tech companies working on trucking programs (like Waymo and Uber).

We updated our view of funding trends into the space through the first half of the year, and the data reinforces the general up-and-to-right mood in the field:

Annual deals and dollars are both on track to eclipse last year's highs, and we're beginning to see sustained deal and dollar funding on a quarterly basis as well. A deal share breakdown also points to a maturing financing ecosystem as mid- and late-stage activity has risen. Check out all the data in the full post.

This week in auto tech

We saw recurring themes in mobility this week, mixed with new developments and fresh perspectives. Full blurb as always below, but here were a few of the highlights:
  • Uber-Yandex: The $3.7B merger agreement between the ride-hailing rivals will see Russia's Yandex assume a controlling position in a new joint venture. Uber will take a minority stake and cede active control of operations in Russia and neighboring countries (reminiscent of the Didi-Uber China deal).
  • Simulation developments: AV simulation startups continue to attract interest and funding; Metamoto raised $2M led by Motus Ventures, while RightHook launched its second product, an ADAS hardware testing solution.
  • Autotech Ventures: The mobility VC closed its first fund at $120M, aiming to connect corporate LPs (including OEMs and suppliers) with its startup investments. We're seeing more of these strategically-oriented, vertically-targeted VCs being launched; Fifth Wall Ventures is one recent example from real estate. This will be an interesting trend to track across other sectors.
  • Audi's L3 cars: The automaker is touting the new generation of its A8 flagship as the first production vehicle capable of level 3 (conditional) autonomous driving. The new A8's Traffic Jam Pilot is capable of hands-free autonomous driving, albeit up to 37mph only and subject to local regulatory approvals.
  • Mobile service: Much like its manufacturing processes, Tesla is expanding its service network ahead of its Model 3 launch. The EV maker will not only add to its physical service footprint, but also field hundreds of new mobile service vans to its roaming fleet for house calls. (BMW i Ventures also backed a repair-booking and remote diagnostics startup this week.)
Have a great weekend!


AI, robotics dominate Toyota's startup investment and M&A bets

We analyze Toyota's private markets activity as the automaker readies a $100M AI fund. See the visualization.
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The state of AI report

Our 92-page report dives into macro trends driving the AI boom, the state of AI today, and emerging applications aheadCheck it out.
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Trucking tech investment on pace for record highs in 2017

Trucking tech startups are on track for their first billion-dollar year in cumulative funding. See the data.
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This Week in Auto Tech
A curated mix of recent articles on auto tech financings, exits, announcements, hirings, partnerships & perspectives.

Deals & Funds
Toyota AI ventures. Managing director Jim Alder laid out the focus areas of Toyota's new $100M fund and its pitch to entrepreneurs, citing CB Insights data from our State of AI report.

Autotech Ventures closes $120M. The firm's debut fund has invested in 6 startups already, including Lyft, Deepscale, and Outdoorsy. The Financial Times also referenced CB Insights' latest auto tech funding figures for the amount of capital pouring into the field.
Financial Times

Uber-Yandex deal. The $3.7B merger agreement between the rivals will see Yandex assume a controlling position in a new joint venture.

SenseTime grabs $410M. CDH Investments and Sailing Capital led the two round closings in the computer vision company, which seeks to explore applications in autonomous driving.
China Money Network

Vroom round. The used-car company's latest financing is a $76M Series F.

Metamoto raises $2M. Motus Ventures led the seed round into the autonomous driving simulation company. On the simulation front, fellow startup RightHook also launched its second product.
BusinessWire (Metamoto) / PR Newswire (RightHook)

EasyMile raises again. Supplier Continental took a minority stake in the driverless technology company for an undisclosed amount.

Transfix raises $42M. NEA led the round into the trucking brokerage services company.

AutoGravity raises $30M. Volkswagen Credit led the round for the mobile auto financing company.
Automotive News

Logistics raises. Warburg Pincus led a $60M round into the Chinese logistics robotics company Geek+, while Scania Growth Capital backed the Berlin-based Sennder.
Deal Street Asia (Geek+) / (Sennder)

Slamtec raises $22M. Chinese Academy of Sciences Holdings led the round into the Chinese robotics sensor company.
China Money Network

Smart Auto Systems, Caroobi raise. Mitsui invested in Indian auto repair company Smart Auto, while BMW i Ventures backed Germany-based repair booking platform Caroobi.
Inc42 (Smart Auto) / (Caroobi)

Cargo Systems raises $1.75M. Rosecliff Ventures led the round into the convenience store service for ride-sharing and ride-hailing passengers.

GeoDigital raises $8.1M. The company is developing 3D mapping solutions for autonomous vehicles.
CB Insights

Daimler Buses invests in CleverShuttle. The busmaker's minority stake is part of a strategic partnership for on-demand mobility.
Automotive World

Uber, Waymo updates. Waymo-Uber trials started this week. Meanwhile, Waymo's prototype cars can now see and hear twice as far and detect emergency vehicles.
Wired (trial) / Medium (emergency vehicles)

Audi's L3 cars. The automaker introduced the new generation of its A8 flagship, which it touts as the first production level 3 autonomous vehicle.
The Drive

Tesla expands service offerings. The electric vehicle manufacturer is expected to triple service capacity with both service centers and repair fleets.

Faraday cash crunch continues. The electric vehicle company has abandoned Nevada car factory plans. 
The Verge

Articles & Perspectives
EV, energy reports. A new report by Bloomberg predicts EVs are on track to accelerate to 54% of new car sales by 2040, while tumbling battery prices will make EVs cheaper than ICEs by 2025-29. The IEA also released its global energy report.
Bloomberg NEF / IEA

Musings on EV subsidies. Alex Roy of The Drive visits Norway, the most electrified country in the world with generous (oil-funded) EV subsidies - but concludes that culture, not subsidies, are behind the miracle. 
On a related note, Tesla saw new car registrations drop off a cliff in Hong Kong after EV tax breaks were capped.
The Drive (Norway) / Quartz (Tesla)

The manual labor of autonomy. The Financial Times looks at the manual inputs and data required for current AV development, and the startups hoping to ease the burden. 
Financial Times

Auto energy consumption. Researchers Boqiang Lin and Zhili Du examine urban rail transit as a possibility to reduce increasing energy consumption by automobiles in China.
Science Direct

80,000 Americans. Dan Primack and the Axios team look at the number of people in the US who assemble cars and motor vehicles for foreign automakers.  

How people really drive. MIT's Age Lab and Touchstone Evaluations, backed by major automakers, are researching how humans really behave behind the wheel. 

Under the hood of Luminar's lidar. The startup's longer-range sensor relies on more powerful pulses than traditional lasers, which are restricted in certain countries. 
IEEE Spectrum

Automakers, auction houses align. Auction houses and automakers are collaborating to try to raise the scores, and the prices, of used vehicles running through auctions.
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