May Mobility Gains Momentum In Autonomous Vehicle Market


In the fast-paced world of autonomous vehicles (AVs), where companies like Cruise and Waymo are racing to deploy their driverless cars on the streets of major cities, one startup is taking a different approach. May Mobility, backed by Toyota and BMW, is focusing on building long-term partnerships with mid-size cities, replacing underperforming buses with their AV fleets.

Key Takeaway

May Mobility takes a deliberate approach to the autonomous vehicle market, focusing on mid-size cities and building long-term partnerships. By avoiding the high costs and rapid expansion of their competitors, May Mobility aims to reach profitability at an earlier stage. With significant funding and strategic investments, the company is steadily positioning itself as a key player in the AV industry.

Avoiding the Spotlight

May Mobility’s CEO and co-founder, Edwin Olson, emphasizes that the company is not aiming to deploy hundreds of vehicles in crowded metropolises like San Francisco. Instead, they are targeting smaller markets with “multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts” that can lead to profitability sooner. By eschewing rapid expansion, May Mobility can avoid the high burn rates of its competitors and grow in a more sustainable manner.

With over $300 million in funding, including $105 million from their latest investment round, May Mobility is steadily positioning itself as a key player in the AV industry. While giants like Cruise and Waymo bet on sweeping changes and face criticism for potential job loss and safety concerns, May Mobility’s focus on selling AV technology to cities instead of individual consumers allows them to operate relatively quietly.

A Strategic Approach to Market Entry

May Mobility’s go-to-market strategy involves selling their autonomous vehicle systems, starting with Toyota Sienna minivans equipped with AV technology, for use within a limited geographic area. This approach allows the company to navigate existing hurdles in AV technology and vehicle costs while proving the viability of their solutions.

However, May Mobility has its sights set on expanding into other sectors like trucking, logistics, and eventually, robotaxis. As their technology advances and becomes more affordable, the company plans to enter these markets, which may attract attention from labor unions concerned about potential job displacement.

Expanding Slowly, but Surely

May Mobility is already making strides in expanding their presence across the United States. They have recently announced deals in cities such as Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Arlington, with plans to extend their service to Contra Costa County near San Francisco by early 2024. The company’s spokesperson also hinted at imminent launches in the Southeast and further expansion within California.

The latest funding round, led by Japan’s telecom giant NTT, along with participation from Toyota Ventures, BMW i Ventures, and State Farm Ventures, among others, has provided May Mobility with the necessary resources to continue their measured expansion. With a total funding of around $300 million, the company is well-positioned to achieve their long-term goals.

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