Denso invests in ride-share software provider
Japanese supplier Denso Corp. has acquired an equity stake in Ridecell, a supplier of operating platforms for ride-sharing networks.
The companies did not reveal the amount of Denso's investment or say how much of Ridecell it will now own. A statement released by Denso on Wednesday morning said it is a "significant contributor" to Ridecell's current funding drive. Denso is affiliated with Toyota Motor Corp., which holds roughly a 24 percent stake in the supplier.
Ridecell is a fast-growing player on the mobility scene. Earlier this week, the San Francisco-based firm also announced it had reached an agreement to supply the operating platform to run ZITY, a new car-sharing service in Madrid being launched by Groupe Renault and the Spanish municipal services company Ferrovial.
Ridecell is not a ride-share provider like Uber and Lyft. It instead supplies the software that allows a company to operate a ride-share service. The company was formed in 2008 by a Georgia Tech graduate student Aarjav Trivedi who launched a vehicle-sharing service at the university.
Ridecell now designs its third-party platforms for companies that want to operate car-sharing businesses. Among its customers are BMW, Skoda and AAA.
Ridecell is Denso's latest investment as the parts maker hunts for new opportunities beyond its traditional business in vehicle climate controls, engine components, instrument clusters and spark plugs. The supplier, ranked by Automotive News as the global industry's fourth largest, with estimated 2016 sales to automakers of $36.2 billion, has recently invested in startups focusing on autonomous driving, connected vehicles, cybersecurity and mobility.
The company opened an office in Silicon Valley in 2014 to identify such investment opportunities.
"Denso believes that Ridecell provides a foundational technology for the future of mobility," Tony Cannestra, Denso's director of corporate ventures, said in the announcement.
"Established industry leaders and startups need to work together to craft products and solutions ushering in the future of transportation."
For the ZITY project, Ridecell's system will allow Madrid residents to download the ZITY app, sign up for the service, and start driving within a few minutes.
"Ridecell and Denso share a vision of safer, more efficient and sustainable mobility solutions," said Trivedi, now CEO of Ridecell. "We'll continue to develop a platform making it easier for cities, campuses and mobility providers to build and scale car-sharing and ride-sharing programs."
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