China and the U.S. Dominate in Global Automotive Unicorn Club
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Automotive industry has seen consecutive global growth ever since 2010. With technology advancing, industry segments such as autonomous driving, vehicle electrification and mobility options are booming nowadays, and unicorn companies of the industry gradually emerge across nations.

EqualOcean summarizes a portfolio of unicorn companies in global automotive industry based on CB Insight sources. The portfolio covers 29 unicorns in total and ranges from 2010 to July 31, 2019.

Overview of global unicorns in automotive industry

We categorize 29 unicorns into four segments of automotive industry. The mobility service sector has the most unicorn companies, amounting to 12. In the global autonomous driving arena, a total of eight unicorns arose. Notably, five of these companies are headquartered in the U.S. and another three are based in China, with no place left for other countries. Three Chinese automobile manufacturers compose the entire unicorn block for automobile manufacturing field, which indicates geographical monotonicity. Six unicorns from other sectors such as electrification, online marketplace and maintenance service are covered in the portfolio as well.

In the global automotive industry, China has 12 unicorns which is the most compared with other countries. However, most of those Chinese unicorns are business-driven service providers such as Didi Chuxing. In contrast, American companies are mainly innovation driven as five out of eight American unicorns covered in portfolio focus on the cutting edge of autonomous driving technology. Unicorns from China and the U.S. total up to 20, which is 66.7% of global unicorn companies. In addition to the two superpowers, unicorns also widely exist in Spain, Singapore, Israel, India, Germany, France and Estonia.

Only two unicorns in our portfolio were founded before 2010, whereas six companies were set up in 2016. Among 29 unicorn companies, Didi Chuxing is the only super unicorn company with the market capitalization of USD 56 billion, almost three times as large as the second-highest valuation. Market valuation of other 28 unicorns ranges from USD 1 billion to USD 14.3 billion.

Top 10 unicorns with the highest valuation

We list the top 10 unicorns with the highest valuation in the global automotive industry below. In the list, China has five unicorn companies on the list, which is remarkable.

As the most valued unicorn in automotive industry, Didi Chuxing is a mobile transportation platform based in Beijing, offering a full range of commuting options to 400 cities in China. The private-held company provides tech-based mobility options such as ride hailing, hitch and car rental for around 300 million users in China. It also actively expands in overseas markets, battling competitors like Uber.

Grab is the second largest company in terms of market valuation. Similar to Didi Chuxing, the Singaporean company operates a mobile technology platform that integrates city transportation for driver partners and customers in South East Asia. It directly competes with Didi Chuxing in the mobility market.

Chehaoduo, a Beijing-based online car trading platform, directly links individual car sellers and buyers, which help buyers remove the middlemen so as to lower transaction costs. It raised USD 1.5 billion from Softbank Vision Fund on February 28 this year.

Argo AI is an American technology company that focuses on autonomous driving sector. Founded in 2016, the company has completed two rounds of funding, raising USD 1 billion and USD 2.6 billion from Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group respectively.

Headquartered in Kormangala, India, Ola is a mobility service provider that operates a mobile technology platform that integrates city transportation for customers and drivers. It has conducted many rounds and types of funding since it was founded in 2010. The latest round of funding took place on July 3 in 2019, raising USD 11.4 million.

Hello TransTech is formerly known as HelloBike which develops and provides a bike-sharing mobile application. The Shanghai-based bike-sharing company closed a Series G round of funding on December 28 in 2018, boosting its market capitalization to USD 5 billion.

Xpeng Motors is the most valued vehicle manufacturing unicorn covered in the portfolio. The Chinese electric vehicle maker completed an extended Series B financing round on August 2 in 2018.

Founded in 2012, AUTO1 Group is a leading used-car marketplace in Germany. By connecting buyers and sellers through technology, the company enables consumers and dealers to trade seamlessly.

Chinese vehicle maker Youxia Motors was founded in 2014 to design and manufacture electric vehicles just like Xpeng. It closed a Series B+ round of funding on August 22 in 2018, obtaining USD 350 million from Gezhi Asset Management.

Based in the U.S., Zoox is a robotics company pioneering autonomous mobility as a service. It has raised USD 790 million since 2014 when it was founded. The company closed a Series B financing round in 2018.

Two American companies listed both focus on autonomous driving technology, while the rest of unicorns cover sectors of mobility services, marketplace and EV making. The U.S. is clearly predominant in self-driving sector.

Top 10 youngest unicorns

We also listed the top 10 youngest unicorns in the global automotive industry. Only one India unicorn is incorporated below, while the other nine companies are from either China or the U.S.

In terms of development pace, Chehaoduo demonstrates an astonishing growing path. The Chinese car trading platform was founded in September 2015 but soon became a unicorn in March 2016, only six months after its establishment.

American electric scooter sharing company Bird Rides takes the second place in the list. It took 13 months for the company to become a unicorn after its founding. AIWAYS, a Chinese EV maker, is ranked third below with a period of 14 months to join the pack.

Despite being the most valued unicorn in the global automotive industry, Didi Chuxing is still one of the youngest unicorns. Only two and a half years after its establishment, Didi Chuxing became a super unicorn.

Among 29 auto and mobility unicorn companies showing up between 2010 and July 31, 2019, 12 are competing in mobility service arena. It can be inferred that market competition is tremendous for potential entrants.

In the meantime, market competition of business-driving industry can be very intensive in China, while the technology-driven industry may have a higher level of competition in the U.S.

Appendix: global unicorn companies in auto and mobility industry


*Contributor: An Feng

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