JAPAN’S AUTOMAKER TOYOTA LEAD $50 MILLION INVESTMENT IN MAY MOBILITY
The Michigan-based startup sees Toyota lead $50 million in its latest funding round, as a result, the bulk of Series B is coming from the world’s largest automaker. However, the startup – May Mobility based in Ann Arbor, Michigan as figured out operates autonomous shuttle service in three U.S. cities.
The latest funding comes a year after the company (May Mobility) pulled $22 million, but it’s also understood the company’s exact investment was not disclosed, and also viewed as its interest in business models that go beyond traditional vehicle sales. However, the company will practically use the funds to broaden all aspects of its service, which will include its autonomous vehicle fleet, staff operation coupled with its engineering.
While responding to this development, Toyota’s operating officer and president ‘Keiji Yamamoto’ stated that, “May Mobility already has a track record of commercializing autonomous driving shuttles in the United States and we see this as an exciting opportunity to collaborate with a seasoned partner in this area”.
According to statistics, it’s been figured out that May Mobility already has 25 autonomous low-speed shuttles spread out between Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan and Rhode Island which it operates. And also intend to build that number up to 25 vehicles for each of these cities.
The startup which was launched in 2017, has gained a client – understood, while on the other hand, the latest round will potentially provide May Mobility with more than capital. And this sees Toyota partner with May Mobility as one of its “autonomous driving providers for the future open platform”.
Based on recent development (Toyota lead $50 million), it’s understood Toyota’s involvement raises the possibility that future pilot projects and deployment may be located in Japan, but there are no concrete plans towards that at the moment, while the company focuses mainly on U.S. expansion.
Also to note is the step taking by Toyota Motor Corp., viewed as first it’s investing in a venture fund’s holding. Toyota AI Ventures, the automaker’s venture-capital arm had earlier invested in May Mobility, and also participated in the latest funding round, though separate from the one that came from its parent company.
Meanwhile, the founding managing director of Toyota AI Ventures ‘Jim Adler’ stated that “I would argue they are a mobility company, and that is not just an autonomous company…Their job is to move people, and they happen to use really cool technology and do it at a good price point”.
The round also saw the return of other investors such as BMW iVentures, Millennium Technology Value Partners and not excluding Cyrus Capital Partners. The Series B round also saw a new investor – Sparx Group.
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