Fleet optimization startup Autofleet today announced that it secured $7.5 million in equity financing, the bulk of which CEO Kobi Eisenberg says will be put toward global expansion and R&D. The hope is to further develop AI that forecasts demand prediction, placement matching, and more, enabling fleet operators to minimize risk and reliably fulfill contractual obligations.
The global fleet management is expected to reach $34.62 billion by 2022, according to Allied Market Research. But its size belies some of the challenges faced by its biggest players, like downtime and route optimization. For instance, Uber reported that gross bookings in Seattle — one of the cities hardest hit by COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has motivated statewide shelter-in-place orders and business closures — declined by 60% to 70% in the month of March.
Autofleet, then, provides a vehicle-as-a-service platform for fleets to tune existing operations and launch new business models from available assets. Concretely, Autofleet offers APIs for demand-supply matching, dynamic pricing, and automated de-fleeting, all of which tap AI to anticipate vehicle demand based on seasonality, weather forecasts, and planned events while accounting for demand-supply ratios and pickup and drop-off activity. Autofleet’s back end processes concurrent ride orders and demand aggregation, and at the same time tracks vehicles in real time to calculate things like the estimated time to arrival.
Autofleet provides a driver app that handles onboarding, turn-by-turn navigation, shift management, and push notifications, as well as a control center with reporting and fleet monitoring features. A ride simulator tool ingests customers’ historical sources of demand, enabling predictions against up to 21 different ride- and car-sharing configurations, with configurable fleet sizes, KPIs, road parking and charging station availability, traffic conditions, and driver shifts.
Autofleet says that these capabilities could be used by customers like Avis Budget Group, Zipcar, Keolis, and Suzuki to shift underutilized vehicle assets to meet growing logistics and medical transportation needs. In something of a case in point, in mid-March, Uber reported a 10% surge in UberEats sales attributable to COVID-19 containment efforts.
The fleet management segment is brimming with well-financed startups, including Fleetonomy, which like Autofleet lets customers simulate services before deploying cars on the road and prioritize vehicles according to demand prediction algorithms. Among others, there’s Switzerland-based Bestmile, which raised $16.5 million last August for its suite of autonomous vehicle fleet optimization tools, and Electriphi, a provider of charging management and fleet monitoring software for electric vehicles.
Not all will emerge from the COVID-19 crises unscathed if recent developments are any indication — KeepTruckin laid off 18% of its workforce in late March. But Autofleet believes it’s equipped to weather the storm.
Tel Aviv-based Autofleet’s latest tranche — a series A — was led by MizMaa Ventures, with participation from mobility-focused investors Maniv Mobility, Next Gear Ventures, and Liil Ventures.