Not a day seems to go by without the mention of electric vehicles and automated cars in the media. Discussions around battery life, cleaner air, and safety dominate, while wider discussions on the ethical choices artificial intelligence might make when faced with road accidents (will the car sacrifice its own passenger if more people will live as a result?) have become a keen talking point.
As society trains its sights on cars becoming driverless within their lifetime, and research being ploughed into developing new technology and Tesla loudly leading the charge, the auto industry is pouring millions into innovation. So which auto giants have invested the most in research and development?
In a new study, Park Indigo has compared the five the five biggest auto giants venture arms who have invested the most in the last two decades, to reveal the future of the automotive industry.
Who are the five auto giants investing in?
The General Motors investment strategy for the past two decades has focused predominantly on autonomous vehicles. Out of their investment total sum of $338,710,000, almost half of that, $159,000,000, was spent in 2017 on Nauto Inc; a company who claim to be rethinking transportation safety by building a data platform for autonomous mobility that makes driving safer and fleets of vehicles smarter.
GM’s next biggest spend has been on the renewables sector, spending $123,210,000 on investments since 2011, on companies including Proterra, a leader in the production of zero-emission electric buses, and Alphabet Energy, who manufacture the world’s first low cost thermoelectric generator.
BMW iVentures are the biggest spenders out of the five, forking out an eye-watering $670,800,000 on investments since 2012. The autonomous vehicle sector receives the most cash from BMW, $177,500,000 in total, also spent on Nauto Inc as well as Zendrive, a smartphone-powered road safety company that uses sensors to produce measurable insights on the driving behaviour of its users.
Other big BMW investment spends include Carbon Robotics ($81,000,000 in 2016), ChargePoint Inc ($109,000,000 in 2017) the world’s largest network of electric vehicle charging stations, and Moovit ($50,000,000 in 2015) a public transit app and mapping service.
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According to the graphic, Toyota Research Institute have spent $9,000,000 on investing in 2017. Unlike the other auto giants, Toyota have chosen to invest in only one area and one company; Intuition Robotics. Maker of the ElliQ robotic elder care assistant, Intuition Robotics are developing social companion technology to positively impact the lives of millions of older adults.
Daimler AG Daimler has spent $632,189,235 in 18 separate investments; (most notably Tesla – three times across the year) and three separate artificial intelligence companies, showing the industry growth towards new technologies.
Toyota weren’t the only investing giant to choose to focus their spending on a single company. Ford Venture Capital Group has spent $10,700,000 on deCarta.
BMW iVentures is leading the way when it comes to investment in future technologies followed closely by Daimler AG. Together, they have made a total of 31 investments amounting to over $1 billion.
It’s no surprise that these auto-giant venture arms are investing their money into apps, software and electric vehicles as the future of automotive progresses.
By providing funding to start-up companies during various phases of development BMW, Toyota, Ford, GM and Daimler AG are ensuring that they are powering some of the most innovative technology breakthroughs for the automotive industry, ever. From safer roads, to social companions, what other future changes will investment funding help to uncover?