Tokyo-based auto components supplier Denso has taken a stake in Bond Mobility, an e-bike sharing company based in California and Switzerland.
Denso’s new mobility group and another company, Ininvest Global, led a $20 million Series A funding round, according to a news release. Denso’s corporate venture capital group under its Southfield-based North American subsidiary Denso International America negotiated the investment terms.
Denso’s investment is another sign that the auto industry is nervous about the longevity of the car ownership model and more enthused about so-called urban mobility services that reduce traffic and emissions.
Denso is particularly interested in “micro-mobility,” or short-distance options such as electric bicycles, electric scooters and docked bicycles.
“While Denso is certainly concerned about the projected future decline of new car sales in the United States, we are also very excited about the growth possibilities offered by the new types of mobility that are being pioneered by startup companies around the world,” said Tony Cannestra, director of corporate ventures at Denso, in the release. ”While micromobility is a fairly new concept for the transportation industry, its potential value to urban environments is undeniable.”
Bond Mobility, formerly known as Smide, aims to stand out from the pack of e-bike companies with two wheelers that go up to 30 miles per hour, faster than the typical offering. The startup also touts its bikes as a replacement for car commuting trips, rather than as a substitute for walking or scootering.
The service is currently available only in Switzerland, and Bond will use the investment to bring the bikes to the West Coast of the United States, according to the release.
Kirt McMaster, co-founder and chief business officer of Bond, said, “Through our partnership with Denso and Ininvest, we’ll be able to bring our services to more citizens, cities and markets in the United States and abroad. High-performance micro-mobility is a revolution in urban transportation and Denso sees this as the future.”
Denso’s partnership with Bond Mobility will “accelerate the development of [Denso’s] Mobility as a Service [MaaS] model,” the company said. That concept uses cloud-based technology to collect and analyze data on how connected vehicles work in real-life traffic conditions with a goal of making mobility safer and easier.
McMaster co-founded Bond Mobility in 2017, shortly after being ousted as CEO of Cyanogen following reports the company exaggerated its success and misled investors.