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As Electric Supercar Maker Rimac Raises $90M, A Quick Look At The EV VC Market

The electric vehicle (EV) industry picked up fresh capital today. News broke this morning that Rimac, a Croatian electric car and component manufacturer most famous for its supercars, raised $90 million from Hyundai and Kia.

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The round caught our eye not merely because we don’t see many Croatian companies on our radar, but also because it made us wonder how strong the aggregate EV venture capital scene has been. So, we dug into Crunchbase’s EV category, and graphed the results.

Below is known deal and dollar volume for venture capital, private equity, and corporate venture capital (CVC) rounds raised by companies in Crunchbase’s EV category. Note that the category includes EV manufacturers, as well as companies developing battery technology and vehicle charging infrastructure.

So far in 2019, there have been 27 rounds raised by EV companies, accounting for approximately $2.1 billion in known funding.

Over the past year, we’ve covered a number of rounds that related to electric vehicles in some form or another. For example, In April, we covered how Sila Nanotechnologies, a developer of battery technology for use in electric vehicles, raised $170 million in a funding round led by German auto giant Daimler AG.

The California-based Sila Nano is working to improve lithium-ion batteries. Its chemistry allows for “lighter, safer, higher energy density batteries for mass adoption of electric vehicles, smarter, longer-lasting portable electronics, and broader use of renewable power sources,” according to the company.

Big car companies are also at work. Earlier this year, Ford tied up with Rivian to the tune of $500 million. The pair are working on new batteries for Ford’s own electric car work. If that sounds similar to the Rimac round, it should.

And last September, Daimler also put money in San Francisco-based Proterra, a maker of battery-electric buses. It co-led a $155 million Series G in the company, which previously made “buses for municipal, federal and commercial transit agencies,” according to our friends at TechCrunch. In partnership with Daimler, TechCrunch reported that Proterra would “work with Daimler to possibly electrify the company’s Thomas Built Buses division, which manufactures a line of school buses.”

Around the world it seems that the tide has crested on gas-powered cars; at least in terms of where research, and the future are looking. It will be years and years until the world sells more electric cars than those powered by old-school methods. But the deals needed to reach that tipping point are being sorted as we speak.

Indeed, we’ve been on this topic essentially since Crunchbase News came into publication, noting in 2017 that the venture classes are into the space. Even back in 2009, a period in which the global economy was dark, there was a good sum invested into the space. Since then China has only pushed harder for their development, for example.

There’s More To Autos Than Electricity

We’d be remiss to leave today without pointing out that the dollar amounts we discussed above are small compared to another category of automotive investment. Namely, self-driving tech.

There has been a staggering amount of money invested into autonomous car tech in recent years. Indeed, according to Crunchbase data, the figure is north of $16 billion globally since the start of 2018. With that in mind, the Rimac round is impressive but comparably modest.

Indeed, so far this year we’ve seen two billion dollar or larger rounds in the self-driving space. Uber’s Advanced Technology Group picked up a billion, and Cruise, part of the GM empire raised $1.15 billion as well. That’s a lot of money.

But ironically, electric cars are a reality today. They exist, they are sold, they are driven. Self-driving tech remains, in contrast, partial and not yet as good as it needs to be. This makes for an interesting wager of sorts. But perhaps in the end we’ll get a self-driving Rimac.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.

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