Germany continues to attract investors and businesses with its world-renowned automotive industry, excellency in engineering and highly skilled workforce. Germany is the European leader in sales and in the production of vehicles and automotive supply. More than many other sectors, the automotive industry invests a lot in the areas of research and development in order to stay competitive within the global market. As a result, innovation within large industry players as well as small disruptors in the form of emerging start-ups play a crucial role in the automotive industry. Some of the most important topics for the future of automotive are the development of existing fuels and the establishment of alternative fuels, electromobility, digitisation and autonomous driving. This article takes a closer look at German start-ups in the automotive sector tackling these topics and the infrastructure supporting them.
Accelerator for German start-ups from the Automotive Industry
One major part of the start-up infrastructure focused on the automotive sector is the accelerator STARTUP AUTOBAHN. This innovative platform connects start-ups, investors and established companies from the automotive and mobility industry. Additionally, twice a year, they host an accelerator program, working together with start-ups on their proof of concept, prototypes and financial strategy. They work closely together with around 30 industry players such as Daimler, Rolls Royce, Porsche, Webasto and Bosch. So far, they have accelerated 289 start-ups and hosted more than 200 industry events.
German Start-ups from the Automotive and Mobility Sector
- Vimcar, a digital car logbook software-as-a-service solution, was founded in 2013 in Berlin and currently employs over 90 people. At the end of 2019, the start-up secured a €12 million funding investment round. The company facilitates the monitoring process of company vehicles. The cloud-based application connects drivers with fleet managers giving company business units real-time data about miles, location etc. This replaces time-consuming excel sheets and is especially used by SMEs who do not have an operational unit responsible for fleet management. The start-up also caters to the needs of large companies such as Allianz, Hertha BSC, and Zalando.
- The Munich-based e-mobility start-up Wirelane offers the infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations consisting of the hardware, software including mobile payment options and an application for customers to search for the next station. Wirelane receives 10% of the revenue of each charging station that has implemented its software. Currently, 50,000 new electric cars are being registered in Germany every month, which increases the demand for publicly accessible charging points. Wirelane especially targets the hospitality sector as hotels in the future will offer their guest access to charging stations. The company works closely together with the municipalities, which decide where the next charging stations will be placed, as well as large corporations such as BMW and VW. The Wirelane founder Konstantin Schwab is a serial entrepreneur. He has already built photovoltaic power plants with the company Plain Energy and sold one of his other start-ups to Eventim. Read this article to find out more about the German renewable energy sector.
- The Munich-based start-up Apostera supports the automotive industry with innovative technology products transforming the windshield into a virtual reality screen, giving human and automated drivers data about the road and thereby intelligent navigation. Overall, their goal is to minimise collisions with other vehicles and increase the awareness of drivers about their surroundings. The start-up was founded in 2017, has currently over 100 employees and offices and research facilities in the US, Europe and Asia.
- PACE telematics, located in Karlsruhe and founded in 2015, offers a cloud-based connected car platform with a variety of services. The most important one is the digital and convenient payment option for fueling your car at gas stations all over Germany.
- The Munich-based start-up Blickfeld offers high-resolution, three-dimensional environmental data for autonomous vehicles. The business uses LiDAR technology and sensors. However, Blickfeld sees other industries, next to the automotive sector, as potential consumers of their products. In particular, smart cities and the security sector can profit from their technology. The company was established in 2017, employs more than 100 people and has just received a series A funding round of capital.
- The company Inchron AG was founded in 2003 in Potsdam and is financed by the renowned investor Hasso Plattner Ventures. The business offers a set of tools for the automotive industry such as system solutions for autonomous or connected vehicles that deliver real-time data. These are increasingly used in testing new products. Inchron’s technology can detect real-time issues within vehicle systems through its tool Chron View. Some of the most important clients are major industry names such as AUDI, BOSCH and BMW. With a move of the headquarters to Erlangen in 2020, the start-up announced to change their company’s legal form to a public limited company (AG).
- The start-up Ducktrain.io was founded in 2018 in the city of mechanical engineering Aachen. The company manufactures small, automated and electric vehicles, designed to drive in urban areas in order to make cities smarter, cleaner, sustainable and more efficient. By combining several single “duck” vehicles, you can transport even larger goods that weigh 300 kilograms within the cities. Additionally, the vehicle is equipped with innovative technology, including sensors and AI, which make the duck safe and reliable. Another very important aspect is that the vehicle has a very low ecological footprint. The company is financed by the PlugandPlay accelerator, WI Venture, the angel investor Achim Kampker and supported by the Federal Ministry for transport and digital infrastructure. In 2021 they received additional investment accounting to a total funding sum of €1,67 million.
- The company Sono Motors, founded in 2016 in Munich, develops solar-powered vehicles with solar panels on the roof and the sides. Their renowned car model called Sion can drive up to 300 km on a single charge. The car charges itself through the sun through almost 250 solar cells and can even share its battery charge with other electric vehicles. Overall, the cost of the vehicle is €25,500, and the maximum speed 140 kilometres per hour. Currently, more than 250.000 Sions are being produced by the company. Next to Sion, the company also offers other mobility services such as Car Sharing, Ride Pooling, and Power Sharing through their app. Next to the three founders, 400 people are involved in the company Sono Motors and its diverse projects.
Next to a stable and growing economy, and an excellent location in the heart of Europe; the German automotive industry attracts investors with its standing as a market leader. In addition to a profound infrastructure of research and development facilities, cooperation networks between suppliers and car manufactures, there is also great support from the automotive industry for emerging start-ups and their innovative ideas and projects.
Are you interested in investing in start-ups from the automotive and mobility industry or do you plan to establish your own company in Germany?
Do you have legal questions regarding e-mobility and the respective government grants? Are you working for an international automotive company or supplier and need support for your legal department?
Contact Centurion Plus Germany today for an initial consultation to find out about our legal solutions for the automotive industry.