The focus topic of this year’s startup award series is smart mobility, which might be considered unfortunate during these times with the automotive industry facing big challenges itself. What’s your take on this?
Smart mobility remains very interesting to many investors, even in this time of crisis. Within the automotive industry, we faced many successful stories in a variety of areas, like drones, smart cities, sea transportations for example.
If I solely focus smart mobility, leaving out the automotive industry, we can still name quite a few key investments, like of Bear new space (satellite launchers), Zephyr & Borée (green transportation for merchant boats), Autolib (Electric cars floats), which happened over the last 3 years in this sector .
Considering the automotive sector, OEMs such as Tier1 and Tier 2 manufacturers face a challenging environment in terms of innovation and competition. For those reasons, most of them are still looking for potential innovations, digitalisation and pull the whole start-up ecosystem to develop new products and to find investments.
Before the lockdown, some of the French automotive indicators have already showed some warning signs. Even if Groupe PSA, which is the second largest car manufacturer in Europe, has known its best figures & metrics (after managing to buy Opel, and expecting to merge with Fiat-Chrysler), Renault-Nissan is still facing a strong management crisis due to the “Ghosn case”, but remains at the world top 3 car-seller in terms of volumes.
The French Tier 1 manufacturers have also faced difficulties over the last 2 years, suffering from the US/China trade war: Faurescia divided its market value by two in few weeks.
This situation itself leads major players of the French automotive industry to look out and invest in talented founders and to drive innovations in this sector. There are also incubators and accelerators dedicated to these technologies.