Corporate investors pile into electric vehicle startups
DETROIT — Corporate investors from outside the auto industry are placing increasing bets onelectric vehicles
, vying with automakers and suppliers to bankroll startup companies working on everything from advanced batteries to charging devices and all-newEVs
Some 250 startups involved in some aspect of electrification have attracted more than $20 billion in venture capital, notably from a broad array of corporations across multiple industries, according to aReuters
analysis of publicly available data.
"Electrification will set off a number of economic changes in the traditional value chain in and around vehicles," saidReilly Brennan
, managing director of San Francisco-based Trucks Venture Capital.
Because of those changes, in addition to funding EV development, investors see revenue opportunities in related markets, such as consumer products and home energy, Brennan said.
Such opportunities are underpinned by steady improvements in lithium-ion batteries' energy, prompting forecasts for a surge in fleet electrification amid global efforts to fight fuel consumption and emissions from traditional internal combustion engines.
Big oil companies such asBP
PLC and Royal DutchShell
PLC see EV-related investments partly as a hedge against dwindling demand for fossil fuels for privately owned vehicles, according to venture investor Evangelos Simoudis, managing director of Synapse Partners.
But they also see an opportunity to provide electric vehicle charging at fuel stations that now dispense gasoline anddiesel
Simoudis, who advises corporate executives on new mobility innovation strategy, said aerospace companies have a vested interest, too, in startups working on advanced battery systems: "Boeing
are both working on electric planes."
Large telecommunication companies such asVerizon
Communications Inc will play a role in connected electric vehicles, while semiconductor makers such asIntel
Inc see their computer chips being used in an increasing number of applications in future electric and self-driving vehicles, Simoudis added.
Far and away the most active corporate investor in electrification so far is Intel, which has backed battery startups Prieto, Qnovo and Enovix and charging startupsWiTricity
Global automakers are heavily invested in battery startups. The field includesGeneral Motors Co
SA,Nissan Motor Co
Motor Co andSAIC
Outside the auto industry, corporate investors in battery startups include technology companiesSamsung
Solutions Inc and energy company Schlumberger NV.
Dozens of the startups focused on EV charging and infrastructure have been funded by many of the same corporate investors, includingChevron
Corp and ABB AG.
The greatest interest from investors, however, is in EV startups. There are more than 50 globally, including several high-profile and well-fundedTesla
wannabes based in China.
Corporate investment in China's startups has come from big Chinese companies such as automakerFAW
Car Co and battery makerContemporary Amperex Technology Co
, which have backedByton
; automaker ZhejiangGeely
Holding Group and technology firmBaidu
Inc, which have fundedWM Motor
, and internet giantAlibaba
Group Holding, which has invested inXiaopeng Motors
In the United States,GM
and BMW have backedProterra
, the electric bus maker, whileCaterpillar
Inc, which is best known for heavy construction machinery, has invested in HenrikFisker's
latest electric vehicle project, Fisker Inc.Reporting by Paul Lienert. Related Video:
via Autoblog http://bit.ly/1afPJWx
January 11, 2019 at 05:44PM
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