Volvo Cars has acquired a stake in Zūm, an on-demand ride-sharing service for children, via the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, its venture capital investment arm.
Zūm, a California-based company, was founded in 2015 and provides a trusted network of vetted drivers that allows parents and schools to schedule transport for school commutes, after-school events, and other activities. It also provides the option of adding child care before or after a ride as needed. By doing so it helps busy parents solve the daily life puzzle in a safe and trusted way.
Drivers are vetted through a strict three-step process. They need to be able to prove they have a clean driving record and previous child care experience. Each driver is also subjected to a driving test and multiple background checks. Finally, each driver needs to present his or her car and pass a thorough 22-point vehicle inspection.
Zūm applies advanced routing algorithms and machine learning to create the most efficient routes possible and to match drivers with rides. A mobile app and online dashboard allow both parents and schools to follow and track their kids’ journeys in real-time as they are being driven.
Zūm currently has thousands of certified drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and other urban areas in California that together serve 80% of the state’s population. Volvo Cars’ investment comes as a part of a funding round by Zūm, with which it aims to expand its business into other US states and continue developing its technology. BMW also invested this round.
The customer group targeted by Zūm, families with children, significantly overlaps with Volvo Cars’ own customer base. While no decisions have been taken, Volvo Cars sees a potential for collaboration with Zūm. Possible areas of collaboration include adding Zūm to the digital consumer services offered as part of its Care by Volvo premium subscription service, as well as the deployment of Volvos as part of Zūm’s fleet.
The Volvo Cars Tech Fund was launched last year and aims to invest in high-potential technology start-ups around the globe. It focuses its investments on strategic technology trends transforming the auto industry, such as artificial intelligence, electrification, autonomous driving, and digital mobility services.
Last year, the Volvo Cars Tech Fund announced its first investment - in Luminar Technologies, a leading start-up in the development of advanced sensor technology for use in autonomous vehicles, with whom Volvo Cars collaborates on the development of LiDAR sensing technology.
Since that first investment, the Tech Fund has also invested in electric car charging firm Freewire as well as in Forciot, a Finnish firm that develops connected, printable, and stretchable electronics.
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