BMW to Invest $533 Million in Tech Startups

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【Summary】BMW Invests in new startups to get ahead in the tech game.

Original Timothy Healey    Dec 07, 2016 10:55 PM PT
BMW to Invest $533 Million in Tech Startups

In further proof that automotive tech is hot, BMW is investing 500 million euros, or $533 million, into tech startups.

This is also a sign that legacy automakers don't want to be left out or left behind as Silicon Valley tech companies and established electronics giants get involved in automotive tech. BMW is also researching and developing autonomous driving tech, same as its rivals.

The money will be invested over the next 10 years in the company's i Ventures division, which invests in startup companies.

The investments will go towards research and development of autonomous driving technology, as well as expansion in Asia and Europe. The headquarters for i Ventures will move to Silicon Valley, as well.

BMW has already invested in San Francisco-based startup RideCell, which provides the IT platform and customer-facing interfaces for BMW's U.S.-based car-sharing program. BMW has also invested in Chargepoint, which has allowed it to expand its ChargeNow public-charging station service.

"We are dealing with a constantly growing range of topics that extend far beyond automotive manufacturing. We have to be willing to explore new directions and invest in promising innovation drivers," BMW management board member Dr. Friedrich Eichiner said in a statement.

"The atmosphere of radical openness and idea-driven exchange that characterizes the start-up scene is particularly fruitful for an innovation leader like BMW," Peter Schwarzenbauer, another board member, said.

That's corporate speak for saying BMW wants to make sure it's poised to compete. This is the case (for them) no matter what direction the automotive market takes, while also feeling that it can also lead when it comes to innovations in the automotive space.

With tech giants (Microsoft, Google and Apple) and electronics giants (Panasonic, Samsung) diving into the automotive space, and plenty of tech startups involved, it makes sense for all legacy automakers, including BMW, to invest heavily. Tech, from autonomous driving to connectivity to infotainment, is a wave of the future. It is both near-term and long-term for the automotive industry. Not only will this investment help spur research and development, it will also allow automakers to partner with companies that might have better experience in the tech sphere.

BMW is trying to get ahead of the game and so are its rivals. Whereas horsepower wars once dominated the automotive headlines, fuel-economy and range (for EVs) competitions are important now. Obvioiusly the tech wars are heating up. The automakers that can provide the best tech to consumers at the lowest prices will see benefits

Not to mention that as a luxury brand, BMW has extra incentive. It will want to get certain features to market first, so that it can market them as high-end features and maintain its luxury reputation.

resource from: Carscoops

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