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Passenger mobility tech (Q4 2023): Partnerships strengthen EV ecosystem; autonomous technologies upgraded for safer rollout

This Edge Insight focuses on notable activity from October 2023 through December 2023 (4Q 2023) relating to five SPEEDA Edge industries under the Transportation & Logistics vertical: EV Economy (excluding commercial EVs), Auto Tech, Shared Mobility, Smart Mobility Information, and Passenger eVTOL Aircraft.

Key takeaways

  • Funding
    • Mega rounds in the Smart Mobility Information and EV Economy industries dominated: The passenger mobility tech sector raised USD 5.9 billion in Q4, up 63.6% YoY and up 12.6% QoQ. This was largely led by growing investor interest in EV makers NIO and Rivian, which raised funds for tech advancements and marketing efforts, while park-and-go app Metropolis Technologies raised funds to acquire a complementary product offering. The US Government continued to play an active role, with plans to replace its fleet with EVs, a program to improve electric batteries, and USD 623 million in grants to have 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.

  • Partnerships
    • Notable collaborations in the EV Economy industry included major automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, BMW, Volvo Cars, Toyota, Hyundai, and SAIC teaming up with each other and with third parties to expand charging networks and the ecosystem. 
    • In the Auto Tech industry, incumbents such as BYD Company, SAIC Motor, Tata Motor, and Hyundai were keen on enhancing the user experience for their software-defined vehicles (SDVs). 
    • The Smart Mobility Information industry saw disruptors in the transport planning apps and multimodal mobility management segments such as UrbanThings, Skedo, Mobilleo, and Optibus working toward integrating advanced technologies for better user experience. 
    • The Passenger eVTOL Aircraft industry disruptors concentrated on infrastructure building and product development, while a few startups, including Archer Aviation, Lilium, Overair, and Dufour Aerospace, secured large aircraft orders.

  • Regulations
    • The Arizona Department of Transportation took initiatives to closely monitor autonomous vehicles in the state, and several unions in the US are calling authorities to open an industry-wide probe to assess safety failures. However, no state authorities so far have banned the technology; thus, we believe deployments will continue, even amid minor setbacks such as the Cruise’s permit suspension.
    • Q4 saw BMW, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz obtaining approvals for automated driving tech deployments. Also, passenger eVTOL players (Lilium and EHang) obtained certifications needed for eventual commercialization from regulatory authorities in the US and other geographies, marking significant strides toward full commercialization. 
    • The UK Government also proposed a bill to regulate autonomous vehicles, where automakers will bear legal liability in case of accidents, potentially benefiting the industry in terms of increased safety.

  • Outlook
    • Incumbent players seem keen to strengthen the EV ecosystem, especially in charging infrastructure, and by developing a battery-swapping technology (as an alternative to EV charging). EV makers (such as VinFast, Lucid Motors, Volvo Cars, Nissan, and Honda) were also keen on introducing new models, which we believe would help increase EV adoption.
    • Companies like Hayden AI and Optibus are driving the evolution toward more intelligent urban transportation systems, while disruptors such as UrbanThings and Skedo are innovating in transport planning and multimodal mobility management. The industry's global expansion, led by players like HAAS Alert and EasyPark Group, indicates widespread demand for advanced mobility solutions. As smart mobility becomes more user-centric, incorporating personalized features and improved accessibility, the sector is poised for a dynamic and technology-driven future.
    • The Passenger eVTOL Aircraft industry is nearing eventual commercialization, having secured critical approvals in Q4 2023. The large orders secured in the quarter signal a promising future with prospects of widespread eVTOL-based urban air mobility.

Funding: Two deals in the EV Economy account for three-fifths of funds raised

Analyst Take: Funding raised in Q4 2023 rose 63.6% YoY to USD 5.9 billion, led by growing investor interest in the Smart Mobility Information and EV Economy industries. Two players in the EV Economy industry, NIO and Rivian, secured 61% of the funds raised during Q4 2023, which comprised mostly post-IPO and debt financing (75% of funds raised in Q4 2023). The US Government continues to support the EV economy with plans to replace its fleet of vehicles with US-made EVs, a program to develop better EV batteries, and USD 623 million in grants to have 500,000 EV chargers by 2030 (announced in January 2024).

Passenger mobility tech sector Q4 2023 funding summary

  • In Q4 2023, passenger mobility-tech-sector-related companies raised USD 5.9 billion across 26 funding rounds. The total was 63.6% higher YoY, with the number of rounds down 18.8% YoY (USD 3.6 billion across 32 rounds in Q4 2022). The surge in funds raised was predominantly due to the heightened funding activities of startups in the Smart Mobility Information and EV Economy industries.
  • Auto Tech also saw an uptick in investment during Q4 2023 (up 4.6% YoY). However, the Passenger eVTOL Aircraft and Shared Mobility industries attracted less investment in Q4, witnessing drops of 94.8% YoY and 90.6% YoY, respectively.
  • On a QoQ basis, funds raised by passenger mobility tech sector startups in Q4 2023 were up 12.6% (up from USD 5.3 billion raised in Q3 2023).
  • The overall average deal size for Q4 2023 doubled YoY, with the most notable increases coming from Smart Mobility Information and EV Economy, which rose about 51.9x and 1.6x YoY, respectively.
  • Seed and early-stage (Series A and B) funding were not popular and accounted for merely 4% of total funds raised in Q4 2023. Most of the funds raised were from other stages, mostly led by publicly listed companies raising post-IPO equity and debt financing (accounting for 75% of total funds raised in Q4 2023), which contributed to higher deal sizes. Growth-stage financing (Series C and above) also increased by 95.1% and accounted for 21% of funds raised during Q4 2023.
  • Notably, the top 10 funding rounds for Q4 2023 had a combined value of ~USD 5.7 billion (97% of the funds raised during the quarter). Most of the top 10 rounds were in the EV Economy and Auto Tech industries (except for the USD 1.7 billion raised by Metropolis featured in the Smart Mobility Information industry).

Product updates: Autonomous vehicle and safety tech development at the forefront; growing momentum in EV and EV battery production

Analyst Take: In the Auto Tech industry, the emphasis was on upgrades to both product and technology by Beep, May Mobility, GM’s Cruise, and Alphabet’s Waymo to enhance the safety of autonomous driving. Waymo expanded its service in San Francisco, California, to include most of the city; started a limited service in Santa Monica in Los Angeles, California; and announced plans to commence testing in Buffalo, New York, by early 2024. New EV models were introduced by VinFast, Lucid Motors, and Volvo Cars, with many players commencing EV battery manufacturing and deployment of EV charging infrastructure, which would support further growth in the EV space. 
Smart Mobility Information player Hayden AI introduced an automated bike lane enforcement product for smart traffic management, while other players focused on geographic expansion (HAAS Alert, VivaCity, EasyPark Group, and LocoMobi World). eVTOL aircraft maker Lilium commenced production, while Wisk Aero and Beta Technologies started real-world testing.
  • We observed 29 product updates during Q4 2023 in the passenger mobility tech sector. These were mostly centered around Auto Tech (18), EV Economy (5), and Smart Mobility Information (5).
  • Hayden AI stood out for Smart Mobility Information product updates; geographic expansions centered around Europe
    • Hayden AI, a developer of AI-powered smart traffic enforcement technologies, and UbiPark, an Australia-based digital parking platform, both secured US patents for their respective products. In addition, Hayden AI introduced automated bike lane enforcement—a product designed to enhance safety and accessibility for bike riders. Other product updates include Optibus, a provider of mobility planning and management platforms, introducing the Optibus Driver App—a mobile and web tool aimed at enhancing communication between drivers and depots. Also, JustPark introduced a Best Price Guarantee on parking spaces for its users.
    • We noted several geographic expansions in Q4 2023, with most centered around Europe: 1) HAAS Alert launching its “Safety Cloud” digital alerting and connected vehicle service in Europe; 2) VivaCity expanding its operations into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; 3) EasyPark Group expanding its services to Gothenburg, Sweden; and 4) LocoMobi World deploying its parking management solution in Ottawa, Ontario, and Gatineau, Quebec, in Canada.
  • eVTOL Aircraft players commenced production and deployment

Partnerships: Incumbents partner to enhance EV infrastructure and autonomous vehicles; eVTOLs secure large orders

Analyst Take: Tesla and Mercedes-Benz were the most active automakers in the passenger mobility tech sector, inking seven and six partnerships, respectively. Most of these partnerships were in EV Economy’s EV charging infrastructure development. In Auto Tech, Amazon had five partnerships, mostly to enhance connected-vehicle-related experiences. GenAI continued to make inroads in the automotive sector as well. No major incumbent partnerships were seen in either Smart Mobility Information or in the Passenger eVTOL Aircraft industry; disruptor collaborations were seen to build up infrastructure and develop aircraft. Several startups including Archer Aviation, Lilium, Overair, and Dufour Aerospace secured large purchase orders.
  • We observed 59 incumbent partnerships, where both automotive industry players, as well as tech and electronic companies, partnered to enhance the passenger mobility tech experience for users in Q4 2023. Almost all partnerships were in EV Economy (31) and Auto Tech (25), with product collaborations (44) dominating the passenger mobility tech sector.
  • Majority (two-thirds) of incumbent EV Economy partnerships were in EV charging infrastructure 
    • With EV adoption, there was a greater emphasis on infrastructure, particularly the expansion of EV charging networks, with several notable incumbent partnerships:
      • 1) Mercedes-Benz’s partnerships including i) a joint venture (JV) with BMW to establish a network of at least 1,000 charging stations in China, ii) Bue-ee’s to establish charging stations at its travel centers in North America, and iii) Simon to establish charging stations at its retailer locations in North America
      • 2) British Petroleum (BP) purchasing Tesla fast chargers
      • 3) Uber partnering with Zest to charging install charging units in Brent borough, UK and with retailer Carrefour to enhance the infrastructure in France
      • 4) Volvo Cars partnering with Starbucks to open a charging network in the US
    • In addition, several other partnerships focused on enhancing the user experience of EV charging, such as:
    • Disruptors offering EV charging solutions such as Wallbox and EVgo were also seen collaborating with third parties to strengthen their respective EV charging networks.
    • Chemical and electronic companies Panasonic, BASF, and Samsung Electronics worked toward further development and production of Li-ion batteries for EVs to make units more efficient and affordable. Automakers including Toyota, Stellantis, and Polestar also partnered with battery manufacturers CATL, LG Energy Solutions, and StoreDot, respectively, to obtain the necessary Li-ion batteries and modules for their vehicles.
    • NIO collaborated with Chinese auto tech companies Geely and Changan Automobile to develop standards and technology for battery swapping (i.e., a technology that allows EVs to exchange a discharged battery pack for a fully charged one instead of recharging). However, battery swapping is currently less popular than EV charging in both the US and China, given compatibility issues with vehicle design, technology limitations, and higher set-up costs.
    • Two incumbents Nissan and Honda unveiled EV concepts. Nissan unveiled a concept EV called “Hyper Force” in partnership with Polyphony Digital, known for the Gran Turismo gaming series, in developing the car's Graphical User Interface, while Honda and Sony unveiled a software-defined EV with more focus on entertainment aspects. 
    • Product launches and deployments by EV disruptors via collaborations included 1) Rimac Automobili partnering with Wearnes Automotive to launch the Rimac Nevera EV in Singapore and 2) Canoo Technologies contracting with Prime Time Shuttle to supply up to 550 of its EVs.
  • Majority (two-thirds) of incumbent partnerships in the Auto Tech industry focus on connected car experiences and autonomous vehicles
    • Amazon was the go-to partner for most automotive players to enhance their connected car experiences. For example, BYD Company and SAIC Motor selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the cloud service provider for their connected vehicle platforms, and Tata Motor and Hyundai partnered with Amazon to introduce Alexa built-in experiences.
    • The momentum to introduce GenAI technologies into connected vehicle platforms was evident in Q4 as well. For example, L&T Technology Services, a global digital engineering and R&D company based in India, partnered with AWS to assist automotive manufacturers in advancing SDVs using GenAI.
    • Automotive manufacturers collaborated to elevate infotainment systems, enriching the driving experience and consumer demands for enhanced connectivity. For example, Alphabet collaborated with automakers Hyundai and Volkswagen to incorporate infotainment features into their vehicles. LG Electronics also collaborated with Hyundai for similar purposes.
    • Several other Auto Tech startups in the connected car platforms segment also expanded their customer bases in Q4. The list includes 1) Smartcar, an application programming interface (API) developer platform for mobility-related companies, partnering with Uber to incorporate EV battery status data into its app and 2) Reviver, a startup offering digital license plates, teaming up with two Police Departments in California to deploy its technology to their vehicle fleet.
    • Notable incumbent partnerships in product development and the rollout of autonomous vehicles include 1) Hyundai and Motional teaming up to co-develop production-ready robotaxis at Hyundai's innovation center in Singapore and 2) Toyota unveiling a jointly developed robotaxi with Pony.ai. Robotaxi deployment and testing partnerships included Toyota’s partnership with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) and Honda’s JV with GM’s Cruise—both initiatives aiming to introduce robotaxis in Japan. Another noteworthy partnership in the robotaxi field was Waymo and Uber’s plan to offer robotaxi and autonomous delivery services via Uber’s platform commencing from Phoenix, Arizona.
    • Startups too continued to test and deploy autonomous vehicles: 1) Oxa partnered with EV provider eVersum to offer an autonomous shuttle service in the US and Europe; 2) May Mobility partnered with Toyota and NTT to deploy autonomous shuttles in Japan; and 3) Pony.ai collaborated with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) to test the technology. 
  • Most disruptor partnerships in the Smart Mobility Information industry were related to transport planning apps, with a focus on the UK
    • Most Smart Mobility Information initiatives were focused on the UK region and included
      • 1) UrbanThings, a transport technology provider, partnering with i) SkedGo, a MaaS developer of multi-modal transit planning mobile apps, and ii) Littlepay, a transit payments processing specialist, to enhance transport planning
      • 2) Mobilleo, a developer of multimodal mobility solutions, obtaining membership in the Urban Mobility Partnership to collaborate on advancing MaaS solutions
      • 3) park & go app, JustPark partnering with Creative Car Park, a car park management solutions provider, to add new parking locations
      • 4) VivaCity, a traffic flow management solutions provider, partnering the Transport for West Midlands to enhance road safety in the West Midlands
    • Two incumbents Amazon and Alphabet collaborated on Smart Mobility Information—the former added HAAS Alert to the AWS Public Sector Partner Program to create lifesaving mobility solutions and improve road safety in North America, while the latter partnered with Transport for London (TfL) to enhance cycling navigation in Google Maps in London, UK.
    • Several disruptors also planned to update their product features via collaborations. Notable partnerships included

 Key incumbent partnerships in the EV Economy industry (Q4 2023)
Key incumbent partnerships in the Auto Tech industry (Q4 2023)

M&A: Industry consolidations observed in EV Economy and Smart Mobility Information; players go public via SPAC and other deals

Analyst Take: The EV Economy and Smart Mobility Information industries saw one incumbent M&A deal and several other disruptor acquisitions during Q4 2023. The list includes AAB, Wallbox, and VinFast in EV Economy and INRIX and Metropolis Technologies in the Smart Mobility Information industry. Listing via mergers with SPACs and other parties continued to be popular during the quarter as well.
  • AAB E-mobility’s acquisition of Vourity, a Swedish developer of cloud-based technology for EV charging payments, in November 2023, to provide enhanced payment systems to ABB’s customers was the only major incumbent acquisition. Other disruptor acquisitions in the EV economy industry included Spain-based Wallbox acquiring ABL, an EV-charging solutions provider in Germany, to complement Walbox’s product offering (October 2023), and Vietnam-based EV maker VinFast acquiring VinES, a member company of Vingroup that specializes in researching, developing, and manufacturing advanced lithium-ion batteries to improve VinFast’s self-sufficiency in battery technology and production (October 2023).
  • A couple of Smart Mobility Information industry disruptors also sought to enhance their offerings via inorganic growth in Q4 2023. INRIX, a provider of transportation data and analytics, signed a letter of intent to acquire Ride Report, a mobility management platform that provides shared mobility data, to complement INRIX’s service offering (November 2023) and Metropolis Technologies, a park-and-go app for making contactless parking fee payments, acquired SP Plus Corporation, a technology and operations management provider for parking spaces, to enhance checkout-free payment experiences in North America (October 2023). EasyPark Group also announced its intention to acquire Flowbird, a global provider of integrated parking and transportation services to expand EasyPark's reach globally (November 2023).
  • Two Auto Tech companies went public via SPAC and other merger deals: LeddarTech, a Canadian company offering environmental remote sensing platforms for autonomous vehicles (listed on Nasdaq via a SPAC deal in December 2023), and Urgently, a provider of digital roadside and mobility assistance listed on Nasdaq via a merger with Otonomo, an Israeli startup offering a vehicle data platform in October 2023.

Regulations: eVTOLs progressing toward commercialization; UK regulators propose bill to regulate autonomous vehicles

Analyst Take: BMW, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz received approval for automated driving tech deployments by Chinese and German authorities, while two eVTOL aircraft companies, namely Lilium and EHang, signify a major leap toward the commercialization of urban air mobility with secured approvals. The UK’s proposed bill to regulate autonomous vehicles and where automakers will bear legal liability in case of accidents would benefit the industry in terms of better safety. 
  • Mercedes-Benz and BMW expand their ADAS systems to more geographies
    • In late 2023, the focus on safety in autonomous vehicle operations remained significant. In October, California authorities temporarily suspended Cruise’s permits, including for commercial operations, influenced by safety concerns and discrepancies in vehicle information. This prompted increased vigilance on autonomous vehicles from the Arizona Department of Transportation, and certain US unions also called for an industry-wide safety evaluation. However, this scenario involving Cruise has not led to broad regulatory changes, suggesting it might be an isolated case within the broader autonomous vehicle industry, where other companies continue to progress. Meanwhile, in the UK, legislative proposals were made to assign accident liability to automakers of self-driving cars rather than the vehicle owners. 
    • BMW, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz made significant progress toward obtaining approval to deploy their respective automated driving systems. BMW received approval from Chinese authorities to test its system in Shanghai and from the German Transport Authority to introduce the system in Germany. Ford obtained approval to introduce its system in Spain, while Mercedes-Benz obtained approval from the Chinese authorities to test its system in Beijing in Q4.
Autonomous/automated driving testing and deployment permit holders in California
Notes: 1) The list contains companies offering fully autonomous/automated passenger mobility solutions covered within the Auto Tech industry; 2) Refer Appendix 2 for more information
  • Two eVTOL aircraft companies obtained approvals from different authorities across various regions in a significant step toward eventual commercialization
    • Lilium received Design Organization Approval from the EASA in November 2023. This acknowledged Lilium's capability to design and produce aircraft that meet safety and compliance standards.
    • EHang’s all-electric “EH216-S” model obtained the type certificate (TC) issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in October 2023—marking the world's first TC for an unmanned eVTOL. This demonstrates that the aircraft’s design complies with the CAAC's safety standards and airworthiness requirements and is now qualified for conducting passenger-carrying commercial operations.
  • US authorities look to boost EV adoption in the country
    • In November 2023, the US Department of Energy announced an investment of USD 3.5 billion to boost domestic production of advanced batteries and battery materials. This funding aims to boost the establishment and expansion of domestic facilities for the manufacturing of batteries and related technologies.
  • UK lawmakers propose bill to regulate autonomous vehicles
    • UK lawmakers have proposed an “Automated Vehicles Bill,” which aims for automakers, rather than the owners of self-driving cars, to bear legal liability for any accidents involving autonomous vehicles. Companies offering self-driving technology could face legal action if their vehicles fail to meet safety standards in severe cases.

Value chain: Autonomous vehicle operations led product updates while many partner to support outbound logistics for EVs

Analyst Take: Product updates were predominantly in manufacturing and operations, driven by Auto Tech players, such as Alphabet-owned Waymo to increase deployment, while others overcame robotaxi-related issues and provided software updates during the quarter. Partnerships mostly were in outbound logistics by companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, BMW, Volvo Cars, Toyota, Hyundai, and SAIC in the EV Economy industry to enhance the EV charging infrastructure. 
Passenger mobility tech sector value chain summary Q4 2023
Notes: 1) Comprises data from all five hubs in scope (only funding activity considered in Shared Mobility); 2) Darker colors indicate greater intensity; 3) includes incumbent and disruptor activities 4) Value chain definitions are provided in Appendix 3


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