Atara Round-ups: April brings a Boost for European EV

and Micro-mobility says Anya Breen of Atara Partners

With many countries in Europe still locked down and travel restricted it seems strange that transport should be at the forefront of tech investment for April.  This month Tesla has shown us some of the serious pitfalls of marketing products as ‘fully autonomous’, but despite this it has been a surprisingly successful month for mobility tech.  Polestar, Volvo’s standalone EV brand based in Sweden, raised over $500m from external investors to fund global expansion plans.  Blablacar, the French startup angling for IPO, raised $115m and acquired Octobus, a Ukranian cloud platform for the automation of bus passenger management.  Toyota’s Woven Planet also made some serious steps towards the future by acquiring Lyft’s autonomous driving Level 5 division for $550m.

 

Below are our top five European mobility startups that have seen fundraising success this month:

 

Dott (The Netherlands) - $85m Series B led by Sofina

One of a growing pool of e-scooter start-ups across Europe Dott has taken pains to distinguish itself from competitors like Bird or Lime by not working with third party logistics providers and using its own warehouses for charging and repair.  The company has marketed itself from the beginning as low CO2, repairing, reusing and recycling scooters where possible.  Now operating across France, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Poland, this latest funding round will be used to expand into e-bikes, and cities in Spain and the UK.  Unlike TIER Mobility which raised $250m in November of 2020 Dott has not pursued a rapid expansion strategy, given the variety of options and approaches it will be interesting who emerges on top in the battle for Europe’s scooter-riding, city-dwelling commuters.

 

EasyMile (France) - $66m Series B led by Searchlight 

In another blast from the future, Easymile develops autonomous shuttles for closed-campus deployments and claims to be a world leader with over 60% market share.  This most recent funding round will allow the company to continue with its current commercial expansion, but also to focus on long term strategy which involves breaking into public transport networks.  The company saw a setback last year after passengers were banned from its services following an accident, so it will be interesting to see how regulatory issues shape the future development. 

 

Oxbotica (UK) - $13.8m (£10m) Series B extension led by Ocado

This isn’t the first time that Oxbotica has hit the news this year, it raised a $36m Series B in January.  But this latest funding from Ocado is specifically to develop AI-powered, self-driving solutions across a range of use cases within the UK online grocer.  Oxbotica was founded in 2014 by two Oxford Professors and is now considered one of the world’s leading startups for Autonomous Vehicle Solutions, it is likely that this partnership will initially lead to developments inside Ocado’s warehouses, but in a couple of years they are hoping to move this technology to open streets.

 

GO Sharing (The Netherlands) - $60m Venture round led by Opportunity Partners

Adding to our increasing options for urban mobility (bikes, carpools, scooters, rideshares, etc.) GO Sharing occupies an interesting niche with its bright green electric mopeds.  Currently operating across the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, the company relies heavily on its AI algorithms to optimise drop-off locations and organise its fleet. With this funding the company is looking to expand into new markets, and add electric cars and e-bikes to the app.

 

Virta (Finland) - $36m round led by Jolt Capital 

Angling to be the leading EV charging platform for Europe and Asia, Finnish Virta is well situated with Europe now the largest EV market ahead of China.  The company was recently ranked one of the fastest growing companies in Europe. Virta offers a solution for the launching, scaling and operation of commercial EV charging networks and is active in more than 30 countries with almost 1000 B2B clients.  This funding round will be used to drive international expansion, not only across Europe and Asia but also in the US.

 

All in all mobility made up a significant amount of tech investments in April considering the size of the industry, hopefully this is a glimpse of a widespread ‘smart city’ mentality across Europe as we start to rebuild through (and beyond) the pandemic.