Volvo Funding Tech Startups
Volvo Cars has announced that it has launched an investment fund—the Volvo Cars Tech Fund—that is specifically focused on investing in tech startups around the globe.
Which is pretty much a dog-bites-man announcement because there probably isn’t an OEM or Tier One supplier that doesn’t have a fund in place to help it garner technology that is outside of its normal, day-to-day operations.
As Zaki Fasihuddin, currently Vice President of Strategic Partnerships in the Volvo Cars Silicon Valley Technology Center, in Mountain View, and now CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, put it, “We seek to invest in companies that can provide us with strategic access to new technologies, capabilities and talent. By supporting promising young firms at the forefront of technological development and providing them with both capital and strategic value, we aim to strengthen our leading role in the industry’s technological transformation.”
The areas Volvo is interested in include mobility apps and services, distributed machine learning, artificial intelligence, storage, safety and security, networking and connectivity platforms, fusion and HD mapping, sensors, and drive computing.
Volvo operates tech centers in Gothenburg and Shanghai, as well as Mountain View, so these is going to be a global search for these various technologies.
So if this is a not particularly surprising or innovative thing, why should you be interested (unless, of course, you’re developing tech in one of the aforementioned categories and are in need of funding)?
It’s this, something that gives Volvo a particular difference vis-à-vis some other companies with which it competes: Volvo is owned by the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. This Chinese company also owns Geely Auto, which employs 30,000 people, operates 12 vehicle manufacturing plants, nine powertrain plants, and six knockdown kit plants. It produces over a million vehicles per year. It owns the London Electric Vehicle Company, 49.9 percent of Malaysian Proton Motors, the majority of Lotus, and flying car company Terrafugia.
And the Volvo Cars Tech Fund people acknowledge: “start-ups may have the opportunity to benefit from Volvo Cars’ unique access to the Chinese car market, its largest, as well as potential access to Volvo Cars’ global network of automotive and technology partners.”
With that bandwidth, just imagine how some advanced tech could scale.
Hyundai Mobis is working with SMS, a German tech company that has worked with TRW (now ZF) and Continental, on developing entry-level front and side radars.
AI will usher in new jobs, according to a book from the consulting firm Accenture. It’s a quick and worthwhile read.
When you think of developing maps for automated vehicles, you might think along the lines of something that you see on your phone, on a screen centered in your IP or something from Garmin.