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Steve Greenfield and the CBT News Friday Five: Red Hot Automotive Market, KAR Global News, and More

Steve Greenfield of Automotive Venture highlights this week's top five automotive technology deals for CBT News. To see more episodes and other great automotive content, visit and subscribe to CBT News.

Automotive Ventures is the resource for automotive technology entrepreneurs and financial and strategic acquirers. The company, founded in 2014, offers fundraising, growth strategy, and transaction guidance.

The markets remain strong, which is fueling a lot of merger and acquisition activity.

Globally, an all-time record of $1.77 trillion dollars in M&A transactions were announced through the first four months of 2021. That’s up a whopping 124% compared to last year, and it’s 10% higher than the first four months of any other year on record.

Why is M&A so strong? Corporate investors and private equity firms are sitting on mountains of dry powder and looking for places to spend it. Interest rates are at record lows, launching a hunt for yield. A firehose of stimulus funding has flooded the globe. A surging stock market is driving investor confidence. And many potential deals that were postponed by the onset of the pandemic are now making their way to market, creating more targets than ever.

Let the good times roll.

And with that, let’s jump into the technology deals of this past week.

- RateGenius and AUTOPAY have agreed to merge to create a diversified consumer marketplace for automotive finance and refinance.

The combined company creates a differentiated experience for its marketplace participants; consumers get access to one of the broadest lending marketplaces through an end-to-end digital lending process, while channel partners and lenders benefit from aggregated loan supply and demand via APIs and embeddable co-branded and white labeled user experiences.

- KAR Global has acquired Auction Frontier, the developer of the Velocicast cloud-based auction simulcast solution, for $80 million in cash and up to an additional $15 million contingent on certain terms.

Velocicast powers KAR’s own ADESA Simulcast and Simulcast+ platforms and also provides the technology behind the simulcast sales of more than 300 wholesale and retail auctions throughout North America and Australia.

- In electric vehicle technology news, IRP Systems, a maker of innovative electric powertrains for electric vehicles, raised a $31 million dollar Series C funding round, bringing its total funding to $57 million dollars.

The financing was led by Clal Insurance and Altshuler Shaham, which are Israeli institutional investors. Also participating was Samsung Ventures, Renault-Nissan importer Carasso Motors and Shlomo Group, as well as existing investors such as Entrée Capital, FOSUN RZ Capital and JAL Ventures Fund.

- In Battery news, Solid Power, an industry-leading producer of all solid-state batteries for electric vehicles, announced a $130 million dollar Series B investment round led by the BMW Group, Ford Motor Company and Volta Energy Technologies. Ford and the BMW Group have also expanded existing joint development agreements with Solid Power to secure all solid-state batteries for future electric vehicles.

- In Autonomous Vehicle news, Self-driving truck startup Plus is in talks to merge with special purpose acquisition company Hennessy Capital Investment Corp 5, making it the latest autonomous vehicle maker seeking to go public via a blank-check firm.

Sequoia Capital-backed Plus is set to have a valuation of more than $3 billion and raise $500 million to $600 million through the deal, which includes proceeds from the SPAC and new equity raised.

- In international news, Bolt, the Estonian firm best known for its ride-hailing business, has launched a car-sharing service in Europe as it looks to diversify its revenue streams.

Like Zipcar and Drivy, Bolt Drive will allow customers to rent a car on demand for a brief period via the Bolt app, which can also be used to hail a taxi, rent bikes and e-scooters, as well as to order food.

And on to our Companies to Watch!

Today, our company to watch is Crispify, founded in 2018, and located in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Crispify is a cutting edge in-cabin air quality management solution. It is designed to offer car manufacturers, fleet operators, ride-sharing services and future autonomous vehicle transportation the healthiest ride possible.

Crispify has the power to transform any climate control system into a state-of-the-art fully automated smart air filtration solution, thus, enabling drivers and passengers an exceptional user experience in terms of wellness, comfort and safety.

If you’re an early stage automotive technology entrepreneur looking to raise money, or an entrepreneur who wants to chat about the best timing and process to sell your company to achieve the best outcome, I’d love to discuss with you. Visit for more information.

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