Until 2012, there had been no significant changes within the automobile industry for 15 years. But 2012 marked an inflection point from which myriad innovative opportunities emerged. Tesla showed us the power of a truly connected car with API’s that could remotely access a vehicle’s data and fix issues with over-the-air updates. Self-driving cars also became a tangible reality, with Google and Delphi demonstrating prototypes across America. Since then, in just a four-year period, the connected car market has transformed significantly. As of early 2016, the more active sectors with the most companies have been in ride hailing, aftermarket plug-in OBD-II dongle devices (on-board diagnostics refers to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability), and car rental/sharing.
The VB Profiles Connected Car Landscape maps companies and tracks innovation across the entire industry. It covers mobility technology from consumer apps and services to enterprise providers to big data to the Internet of Things (IoT). Both nascent firms and legacy companies are moving into this market with new business models. We will be updating the Landscape frequently with new entrants and keeping tabs on key trends.
A high-resolution version of the VB Profiles Connected Cars Landscape is available for download here.
The on-demand business model
Beginning in 2012, on-demand, two-sided markets became one of the biggest trends in transportation and everyone’s favorite business model to emulate. Uber and Lyft inspired many niche copycats, such as HopSkipDrive, Shuddle (both rides for kids), and Wheeliz (wheelchair accessible peer-to-peer car rentals). T Dispatch even built an SaaS fleet management platform that can get a ride-hailing fleet up and running quickly.
However, since late December 2015, there has been a palpable shift in on-demand ride hailing, as services enter and exit the market at a consistent rate. Recently, Sidecar got acquired by GM, and Shuddle shut down its operations. Collectively, they had raised over $47 million dollars. This amount could not compete with the $8.3 billion and $2 billion in funding that Uber and Lyft have raised, respectively. Even though Sidecar was a pioneer when ride sharing was still an uncontested market, in the end it was out-maneuvered and out-financed.
Some are calling Uber the winner, especially in the U.S. This may appear to be the case in 2016. After all, when comparing Lyft and Uber, the consumer experiences feel identical, especially since many drivers work under both apps. But as the two companies simultaneously move into commuter carpooling, the types of customers who favor one brand over another might make the services somewhat distinguishable again. Outside of the U.S., Uber’s major Chinese competitor is Didi Chuxing, which has raised $5.3 billion and has partnered with Lyft, Southeast Asia’s Grab, and India’s Ola.
For the past few years, the ride-hailing space has kept us engaged with news about fierce competition, multi-billion dollar valuations, worker classification laws, municipality push-back, and strategic partnerships. Will the ride-hailing space ever become uneventful? For now, this sector continues to redefine itself frequently, as the dominant players work to find new markets and create strategic global partnerships, and the clones demonstrate whether their niche markets can create enough value.
Meanwhile, India is seeing growth in the last-mile delivery industry with The Porter, Blowhorn, and Let’sTransport. These on-demand services help people move anything anywhere. Considering that India has the highly efficient yet low-tech dabbawallah lunchbox system, I look forward to seeing how they can innovate logistics with a high-tech approach and whether these companies can find sufficient sustainability.