Why An International Auto Giant Just Invested In a Tiny App?


Automakers nowadays are investing money into technology to stay pertinent in positions where car ownerships may become optional in future.

BMW has been in the business of making cars for 87 years and now it’s already entering into the business of car parking and other car related services.

On Wednesday, the German carmaker’s investment arm, BMW iVentures said that it has backed Zirx, a San-Francisco based 18-month-old on-demand valet parking startup. Zirx’s Mobile App allows you to set a drop-off location for your car and then its agent will pick up your car and store it in their secure lots, saving you from circling the block in vain for a spot that may not exist. When you’re ready, ZIRX Agent will deliver your car back to you, wherever you are. While your car is parked with them, they can also fill your car up with gas or wash your car or store overnight according to your requirements.

Ulrich Quay, MD of BMW said, “The way people are using cars is changing, we’d be dumb if we didn’t react to that.”

BMW and various other global automakers are pouring their money into car-related services such as the native fuels and navigation apps and by doing this they are hoping to make owning a car more attractive.

BMW iVentures has invested in 10 starups so far and its current portfolio includes: Life360, MyCityWay, JustPark, ChargePoint, ChargeMaster, InstantCab

In addition to BMW, rivals General Motors, Ford and Honda are some of the other carmakers with dedicated venture capital arms. Their spending is really growing. According to venture research firm PitchBook, the venture arms of global automakers have invested $767 million in startups already this year. That’s almost six times the amount they spent last year.

Honda also has  invested in a fuel maker company Virent. Toyota and BMW have both funded ChargePoint, which operates nearly 24,000 electric vehicle fueling stations. This summer, GM  also backed electric battery company Proterra.

Website: Zirx           Mobile App: Android / iOS

Founder: Sean Behr

Founded: 1-March-2014

Location: San-Francisco, USA

Total Funding: USD 36.4 Million