The Future of Mobility with InMotion Ventures
Metta talks to Emilie Hannezo, Principal at InMotion Ventures — Jaguar Land Rover’s venture capital arm, about investing in mobility tech.
The standstill in the transportation sector between 2020 and 2021 resulted in the mobility industry being one of the most heavily affected sectors. Despite this, the first quarter of 2021 was one of the strongest quarters for mobility investments. It’s estimated that since 2010, investors have poured nearly $330 billion into more than 2,000 mobility companies focused on ACES (automation, connectivity, electrification, and shared mobility). These include AV software and mapping, batteries, human–machine interface and voice recognition, among others. Consumer behaviour has also changed as a result of the pandemic — safety, and hence a preference for private transport, is the number one thing on everyone’s minds.
Companies of all sizes must now adapt to a new normal and I was delighted to have Emilie Hannezo, Principal at InMotion Ventures — Jaguar Land Rover’s venture capital arm, join us on Metta Talks to discuss the future of mobility. The InMotion team is based in London and invest globally in early-stage tech companies. Their ethos: investing in exceptional entrepreneurs, changing the way people move.
It was really interesting to talk to Emilie about trends in the mobility space and the rise of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) startups. We also take a look at the state of the electric vehicle (EV) industry today, EV adoption, and what’s holding it back. We’ll hear a lot more about what the InMotion team is most excited about in this space and their advice for early-stage founders too, so don’t miss the highlights from our conversation below.
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The rise of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)
For many people living in big cities, speed and convenience are key. This is one of the factors that makes Uber so successful — it just ticks these boxes. If we look at growth, however, Uber was founded in 2009 and it took 3 years for them to reach 10 million riders. In the new wave of mobility startups, we’re seeing players like last-mile electric scooter rental service Bird reach the same milestone of 10 million riders in just a single year.
Consumers today are different from consumers in 2009 and their commuting style has changed. They are interested in short trips, availability and proximity, and of course, the ability to book online (so long black cab hailing in London). Many of these consumers care about sustainability too. The range of services, take for example mobility companies Uber, Bolt, or Ola, means we’re switching between apps to find the best option, whether it be a car, scooter or bike. With so much choice, there’s now a need for consolidation and that’s where Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) comes in. MaaS brings together various modes of transportation into a single platform, accessible on demand. Startups that are tackling these challenges include Transit, an InMotion Ventures portfolio company, and Citymapper.
Venture capital has played a significant role in scaling these services too. It’s estimated that $120 billion of investment into MaaS over the last 10 years. The micro-mobility industry, meaning short-distance trips that are usually less than 6-miles / 9 kilometres and on light-weight vehicles, is growing. From a customer perspective, it’s all about creating a seamless way of booking these services.
Innovation for the circular economy
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a UK registered charity which promotes the circular economy, a circular mobility system is characterised by three main features:
- An accessible, affordable, and effective mobility system
- A multi-modal mobility structure that incorporates public transportation in combination with on-demand cars as a flexible last-mile solution
- Electric-powered, shared, and automated transportation
Now more than ever, cities are under immense pressure to reduce congestion and improve air quality. The IPCC report published last week clearly shows the impact that human activities have on our planet. There’s a new wave of innovation that plans to tackle sustainability challenges, one of these being connected infrastructure. Sensor technologies, edge computing, and 5G connectivity are bringing better traffic management, better optimization of public transport and parking systems online. Real-time data is helping cities with their sustainability targets.
“Real-time data can really provide a holistic view of the city, and having that data enables you later on to make smarter AI-powered decision making, which results both in better customer experience but also helps you redefine your sustainability targets.”
With the increased adoption of electric vehicles, we’ll be seeing an infrastructure change in our cities and more compelling investment opportunities, like grid management solutions, will emerge. The InMotion Ventures team put electrification to the test on their trip to the annual Slush event. Using a Jaguar I-PACE, an all-electric performance SUV, the team traveled from London to Helsinki, stopping at different European cities on the way. Emilie told me that it was a really cool experience and it gave the team great insights into the experience of owning an EV, especially for long-distance trips.
How come more people don’t own EVs? While we’re getting there on price, range anxiety is still one of the biggest turn-offs for consumers thinking of making the switch from a regular car.
“Range anxiety is one of the largest barriers for people switching to an electric car. If you ask around, your friends or your family, if they could have an electric car for the same price as [a regular car], if they reached the same price parity, then it’s really around “Well, what happens if I’m stranded somewhere with no way to charge? For long-distance trips, will I have to stop every two or three hours to charge my car for 30 minutes to an hour?” I think those are the top consumer considerations after price.”
Emilie shares three things that can improve the experience of owning an electric car: interoperability, EV navigation routing, and smart charging.
Interoperability is a key one. This is the ability to pay for your charge at any station and, as Emilie mentions, the market is currently quite fragmented. If you stop at a charging station that is not the one that you signed up with originally then you might not be able to charge your car there. This is nowhere as smooth as driving a regular car and topping up with fuel at any gas station.
The second challenge is EV navigation routing. Increasing the number of chargers will help but consumers will need to know where to go. Emilie shared that when the InMotion team was on the road to Helsinki, they would go to a charging station but that charging point was either under maintenance or already in use. There are a lot of opportunities here to be able to predict the availability of a charging station, to improve the connectivity of charging stations so that, as a consumer, you have more reliable data when you’re on your trip.
The third one is smart charging. Companies like ev.energy provide a charging software which helps drivers charge at times that work best for the grid.
“If everyone who owns an electric vehicle comes home after work and charges at 6 pm, that pulls a huge load on the grid and the grid just doesn’t have the capacity to manage such a huge load at once. The idea of ev.energy is that you would plug in your car and it would get charged at times which work best for the grid, for instance at 2 am when it’s an off-peak hour. This gives savings to the driver, or perks, and you can see what sort of savings you’ve done and your charging events.”
Investing in mobility technologies
InMotion Ventures ethos is “investing in exceptional entrepreneurs, changing the way people move”. The team looks at four main topics: autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification, and shared mobility (ACES). All of these fall under one horizontal theme — that we at Metta are also incredibly excited about — sustainability. Startups that focus on reducing carbon footprint, improving air quality, reducing congestion, and making a transition to a carbon-neutral economy, are all on their radar.
I asked Emilie what InMotion looks for in early-stage founders and the founding team. Her advice is to be able to truly sell your vision and that will show venture capital teams two things:
1. How good you will be at recruiting top talent — because it’s not easy to recruit top talent early when you’re a small team with limited funds.
2. How good you will be at fundraising — because early stage founders spend so much time fundraising that they have to be good at delivering a vision with a compelling business case and a huge market opportunity.
Thank you Emilie for sharing your insights with us on Metta Talks!
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