It’s that time of the year (again) where we get some time to reflect on what the last 12 months brought us, and what we were able to achieve during this period.
Back in January, we published our top predictions for the mobility space (here), and below, we try to assess how close or far off we were. But most importantly, we will highlight the investments we closed during 2021 – after meeting with more than 400 founding teams around the world – to really appreciate where our time and focus was for the most part, and if we were following any of these trends or not.
So, with this as context, let’s get down to it:
Under our “Changing Mobility” pilar we laid out 9 different trends that we expected to pan out throughout the year.
1. Cities will re-evaluate their urban space repurposing spaces, reducing speed limits, and prohibiting access to cars to city centers
Cities continued to put pressure across the board on speed limits, increased (or approved to increase) infrastructure for bikes, although not at the rate we would all hope for, mandated new rules to contain emissions, and towards the end of the year, added more pressure on Micromobility operators to adhere and comply with very specific rules and regulations to keep sidewalks organized and clear. A clear example is Mayor Anne Hidalgo announcing in May an audacious plan to reduce car use in the French capital: a ban on most vehicle traffic crossing the city center in 2022 (link).
Cities across the world are rewriting rules, developing supportive policies, and allocating more public space to bike and scooter drivers. Milan announced 35 kilometers of streets previously used by cars will be transitioned to walking and cycling lanes; Paris will convert 50 kilometers to bicycle lanes, investing $325mm; Brussels will turn 40 kilometers into bicycle lanes; Seattle 40 kilometers; and Montreal 320km.
2. Neighborhoods’ commercial nodes will be re-envisioned into “15-minute city”
The 15min city concept made a few headlines during the year with cities studying and planning to make this a reality, although we are still far away from really having a city like this anywhere around the world.
3. OEMs will continue their battle with tech companies and other newcomers to own more of the customer journey
OEMs continue to recruit (or try to recruit) top SW talent as they keep envisioning the potential subscription-based products and services that they can offer to their customers. Just this week Stellantis announced that it is expecting $22.5 billion from in-car SW purchases by 2030 (link).
4. EV adoption will continue as battery costs reach cost parity to ICE vehicles, with fleets taking the main stage in 2021
If there was something constant throughout the year, was the continued announcement of new models and increased capacity to bring more EVs to market. Even though lithium prices spiked tremendously, the cost parity sits well within reach and even some might argue that we are already there. Furthermore, more tax incentives are being discussed to further speed EV adoption. On the other hand, fleets have pledge to reduce emissions, but we have yet to see major shifts as the capex and infrastructure required is not something to be taken for granted. We continue to be bullish on this trend and expect it to continue growing in 2022 and beyond.
5. Autonomous commercial vehicles and delivery technologies will continue to grow as an emerging staple for the transport of goods
Oh boy, did we see the comeback of AV’s during 2021! According to Pitchbook, as of December, more than $6.5 billion had been invested in self-driving logistics vehicles, 6x of the amount invested during 2020. Also, we got the first few companies in the space going public, such as TuSimple, Embark and Aurora, and plenty more private rounds riding on the momentum to continue building the next generation of companies tackling the well-known pain points in the long haul and logistics space. Also, not to forget, the delivery robots’ craze is at full speed too, with deployments across all geographies and companies capturing the interest of VC’s around the world.
Within the trend behind this prediction, we made 2 investments. The first, in Massachusets-based Ottometric, which has radically transformed ADAS validation with a software platform that automates and enhances the validation and training process, helping companies save millions in development and storage costs, while improving system reliability and ultimately saving lives. And the second one, in Israel-based DriveU, whose SW-based connectivity platform enables the deployment of autonomous vehicles and robots. It is now recognized that successfully deploying autonomous solutions – which encounter unpredictable scenarios in the field, and must comply with regulatory and safety concerns – requires effective and reliable remote human supervision (and when needed-intervention) – also known as Teleoperation.
6. AI in digital solutions around depot management and energy management will showcase a strong growth rate
These 2 sectors were hot during 2021 capturing many VC dollars and making their way to more warehouses that we can think of.
7. Collaboration among MaaS players to bring a localized and holistic solution to employees and city dwellers helped by the digitalization of public transport
Miss for the most part;
Even though we are starting to see some collaborations taking place in very local markets, we are still missing a great example to show for. We do believe that collaboration among different mobility nodes will continue to evolve, and that sooner or later, we will see a more holistic solution to get us from point A to B.
8. In medium densely-populated cities, MaaS will become the extension of the Public Transport to improve the mobility of the residents and thus the first business model deployed will be B2G2C (Business to Government to Citizens)
To our knowledge, this has not been the case and we continue to see unintegrated services across the board. Not even that, but the pandemic has challenged most public transport systems in most cities, making this an even bigger challenge.
9. AI will improve voice assistance to make interactions more natural and conversational – the voice interference in the vehicles will get good enough that it will replace our dependency on smartphones. Seamlessness of the voice assistant experience will be even more important – to assist with this, interoperability between voice assistants will be critical, allowing people to get help from their preferred general voice assistant to interact with specialist voice assistants.
Even though there’s been great progress in voice assistant technology, we are yet to see a more rich infotainment system allowing the same UX as we get in our phones or personal devices. This is a topic that will undoubtedly continue to unfold as vehicle architecture continues to evolve and OEMs and tech players define the spaces they want to specialize in and which they want to outsource.
Under our “Evolving Consumer Behaviors” pilar we listed 3 predictions:
1. The high degree of urbanization and the subscription economy will continue to push the decrease in private car ownership
The effects of the pandemic continued to send us backwards a little bit and the demand for used cars went up. Not even that, but used car prices made the headlines month in and out as they continued to balloon for most of the year.
Within this trend, and figuring that as people drive less they will become more conscious about how much they are spending in different services such as insurance, we placed a bet on miituo, the leading pay-as-you-drive insurance platform in Latin America with the simplest value proposition in the auto insurance industry: “drive nothing, pay nothing”. miituo’s extremely friendly and easy-to-use native app technology offers each customer a personalized premium per km without minimum fees; customers only pay based on how much they actually drive, resulting in annual average savings of +50% over traditional auto insurance policy. Additionally, miituo licenses its technology platform – while controlling the end-to-end policy management cycle – to insurance carriers that want to increase their digital footprint in the market.
2. Shared micro-mobility will take over a bigger part of all urban trips
The supply chain bottleneck put a halt to this as finding vehicles to deploy across cities was close to impossible to get. Having said this, we continue to believe that this form of transportation is destined to triumph. Just look at the new McKinsey study where an average of 70% of respondents replied that they would use micromobility as a means to get to work if they could.
Even though we missed on this prediction, we remain bullish on this space, both in the private and shared market, and continued to bet on this trend by investing in 2 companies during 2021. First, Ridepanda, an online dealership for micro-mobility that helps end-users get access to high-quality vetted light electric vehicles across electric scooters, electric bikes and electric mopeds along with all the support for peace of mind of ownership across financing, insurance, maintenance. Then, on Toronto-based Joyride, whose software is used by scooter-sharing and bike-sharing operators in 180+ global markets to seamlessly launch, manage and scale their businesses. Its platform powers city-focused and private B2B fleets of scooters, bikes, e-bikes, and mopeds through a branded user app, field operations apps, backend management, hardware-agnostic vehicle integrations, long-term rentals, payment gateway, and more. Joyride was founded in 2014 as the industry’s first SaaS offering that simplifies and streamlines micro-mobility management for all, and all in one place.
3. Online commerce, as well as remote work, are here to stay, disrupting commuting practices and reshaping the curb space in high-street retail while causing a major shift in retail floor spaces and local commerce.
WFH was the norm and the penetration of ecommerce increased at an accelerated pace. Also, the ultra-fast delivery wars played a main role during 2021 capturing a fair share of VC dollars, changing the landscape of retail as we came to know it and instead establishing mini-city warehouses to deliver goods at ultrafast speed. Can you imagine living in NYC and just having to take your elevator down to your lobby to pick up a toothbrush and toothpaste? We don’t! The sense of community is getting kind of lost in the middle of all of this.
Finally, under our “Increased Environmental Awareness” pilar we took to final stabs at predicting what was going to happen during 2021:
1. Sustainability will be top of mind for consumers and regulators will continue to play an important role in helping the mobility sector recover from the pandemic and enacting new guidelines pushing for safer and environmentally friendly solutions (with varying degrees regionally)
We continue to see favorable regulatory conditions to curb emissions and push for EV adoption and slightly more openness from consumers to make the EV shift. However, we would’ve liked to have seen a better outcome from COP26 this year and a harder commitment from the leading countries of the world.
2. With the drop in commuter congestion, decrease in usage of public transportation, and the democratization of access to mobility, air pollution will improve.
Traffic levels almost reached pre-pandemic levels in most cities but unfortunately, trips have not been replaced for more efficient and greener options. We believe that will just have to wait a bit longer for this one to pan out.
Beyond the predictions we laid out for 2021, there were also a few other trends that we totally missed mentioning, such as the chip shortage, huge supply chain issues and bottlenecks all around, strong decline in SPAC activity as the investment vehicle went out of flavor, continued lockdowns due to the pandemic, explosion of products and services around EV’s, mainly new battery technologies, battery management systems, battery recycling and others, used car prices ballooning out of control, etc. but hey, this is what makes making predictions fun!
To top it off, we made a 6th investment outside of our 2021 predictions by investing in Colombia-based Autolab, Latin America’s leading auto repair platform. The company provides vetted repair shops with the tools and processes needed to digitize and professionalize their services while at the same time offering car owners visibility on their repair status, transparent and affordable pricing, two-way communication to check on everything related to their car, and overall, a high-quality experience. Repair shops experience a significant boost in revenues after adopting Autolab’s platform while end customers get better pricing and a guarantee on the services rendered by the repair shops in Autolab’s network.
Be on the lookout for our 2022 predictions early in the year as we recharge our batteries (no pun intended) and get together to think hard about the year ahead!
Happy holidays and happy moving! #futureinmotion #reshapingmobility
The P.V team