Automakers target 3D printing. VW partners with ex-spy. Self-driving in the spotlight at TC Disrupt.
Last Friday, Ford acquired shuttle van startup Chariot in an all-cash deal valued at over $65M (the SF-based company had raised just over $3M in total funding, according to CB Insights data). The deal was just the latest in Ford’s rapid series of private markets bets since it emerged from near-dormancy this May.
Ford’s investments and acquisitions have come across a wide range of disciplines—computer vision, mapping, mobile car rental, among others—as it seeks to buttress both its new Smart Mobility arm (unveiled this March) and push towards full autonomy (formally announced in August).
What’s striking is not just the sudden pace of Dearborn’s moves, or the breadth of the fields that it has committed funds to. The company has also shown a willingness to invest directly across stages, from Civil Maps‘ seed round ($6.6M) and ZoomCar‘s Series B-II ($24M) to Pivotal‘s Series C ($653M).
This diversity in stage activity comes despite Ford’s lack of a dedicated venture arm compared to rivals like BMW, GM, and Volvo, underscoring the level of importance major automakers are now placing on private markets investment.
At the bottom of each newsletter, we traditionally round up the week’s events in auto tech. Given the flurry of recent news, here are are few of the highlights in case you don’t have time to scroll through them all:
Self-driving tech in the spotlight at Disrupt SF:Udacity and Comma.ai both made major announcements at TechCrunch’s annual event. Reid Hoffman, Sebastian Thrun, George Hotz, and Kyle Vogt all weighed in on the increasingly-hyped field.