Ford and Sequoia plant $25 million into Indian rental startup Zoomcar


*updated August 25, 2016, 11:28 AM

Over the weekend, it was reported that India-based Zoomcar is on the verge of closing a $25 million Series B round that Ford will lead with a $15 million investment. This more than doubles their finances, having raised just over $21 million in previous rounds.

Besides Ford Smart Mobility, the round’s investors include Sequoia Capital and Reliance Venture Management, according to Business Insider. Nokia Growth Partners (NGP) and Empire Angels also joined the round. They also write that this is Ford’s first major investment in the country. The company is on pace for $25 million in revenues this year, which brings it close to profitability: Zoomcar calls itself “EBIDTA-level profitable in several cities,” meaning in those cities its operations would be profitable if not for taxes, interest and depreciation.

“We’re thrilled to welcome the Ford team on board for this next phase of growth in the Indian self-drive space. Ford was our very first OEM partner back in 2013 and this announcement just cements the fact that the two companies share many of the same core values and vision related to urban mobility,” said Zoomcar CEO and Co-founder Greg Moran in a statement. “Customer experience will remain our highest priority as we scale ZAP across India in the months ahead and our relationship with Ford will no doubt help us create a world leading marketplace experience for both our customers and associates”

The startup operates over 1,600 cars, claiming more than 2,100 rides a day and over 860,000 users. They offer different services such as those related to airport rides, train station pickups and general commuting. Zoomcar also recently added a marketplace option, which MediaNama termed a pivot.

“As Ford expands its business to be both an auto and mobility company, we are pursuing a long-term vision to develop services and solutions that make it easier for consumers to move through cities using multiple modes of transportation,” said Ford Asia Pacific’s mobility director John Larsen.

Ford Smart Mobility functions as Ford’s venture capital arm for new technologies, connected to the company’s internal research arm Ford Mobility. Smart Mobility was formally announced only this past March with locations at the company’s corporate headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan along with an office in Palo Alto. It is the group’s third investment so far following a seed round in 3D mapping startup Civil Maps and co-leading a Series C investment in unicorn company Pivotal Software, also based in Palo Alto.

Those investments point in the stated direction of the company to focus on autonomous rides, data and connected cars. Ford has co-invested with Baidu in LiDAR-producing startup Velodyne, a detection technology being used by most companies developing autonomous vehicles (with the glaring exception of Tesla), as well as recently bought Israeli computer vision and deep neural networking startup SAIPS to work on its self-driving mapping.

Sequoia already invests in car-related startups in Asia such as Cheyipai in China and CarDekho in India.

Co-founder and CEO Greg Moran, CFO Paritosh Gupta, and CTO Prashant Verma lead Zoomcar, which is based in Bengaluru.

*updated August 25, 2016, 11:28 AM


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