German startups innovate for the future of mobility



As the the modern car house, Germany has one of the most competitive transport sectors in the world – made even more difficult as the global auto industry faces a sustainability challenge.

Electric vehicle sales in Germany increased triple last year and the auto industry says it is ready to meet the EU’s stricter climate targets, with $ 6.5 billion in funding invested in electric car charging infrastructure.

2021 is already a record year to invest in European mobility startups at all stages, with nearly € 1bn more than the € 1.2bn raised over the whole of 2019.

German startups are innovating for the future of mobility, whether it’s flying taxis, electric scooters or long-distance bus travel. We sifted through the biggest players on (and sometimes above) the highway.


In January, Berlin freight forwarder Sennder hit unicorn status after an increase of $ 160 million, making it one of the continent’s most valuable tech companies. In June, he lifted a $ 80 million more.

Founded in 2015, the startup connects small and medium-sized trucking companies with shippers, with the goal of reducing the number of round trips that trucks make when empty.

“We want to increase the average use of trucks. Today, a third of all trucks run empty, mainly because the symmetry of information is crazy ”

“We want to increase the average use of trucks. Today, a third of all trucks run empty, mainly because the symmetry of information is insane, ”David Nothacker, CEO and co-founder of Sennder told Sifted in January.

Sender is one of many startups – including Zencargo in London and Freighthub in Berlin – on a mission to digitize a hugely outdated logistics industry worth $ 427 billion in Europe alone.

Sono Motors

Founded in 2016 by four friends in a garage in Munich, Sono is developing a fully electric vehicle with solar cells in its body. The Sion has a range of up to 305 km and can be recharged with solar energy or from traditional outlets.

Last month, the solar car startup filed an initial public offering in the United States, a listing that could value the company at over $ 1 billion.

Sono says he hopes to deliver his cars in early 2023 and aims to capitalize on a global push for greener transportation.


In a few years, hailing a flying cab might be as easy as getting an Uber. Or at least that’s what the Munich-based startup Lilium bet on.

The company is in the process of manufacturing one of the world’s first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) jets.

In March, he unveiled a seven-seater aircraft and is scheduled for a commercial launch in 2024. It has raised $ 830 million through a $ 3.3 billion merger with Qell Acquisition Corp, a special acquisition company (or Spac) led by Barry Engle, former president of General Motors North America.


Where there is mobility, we must not forget micro-mobility. Tier, based in Berlin, is one of the largest suppliers. With $ 60 million from Goldman Sachs, the startup has become best funded in Europe scooter company.

Launched in 2018, the company operates its electric scooters in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.

“Germany is a long way from achieving this goal, but the Berlin start-up Ubitricity is part of the effort to improve the charging infrastructure”

Tier says its new funding will be used to expand its existing fleet, including bicycles and mopeds. The startup also plans to expand its charging network by installing stations in retail stores across Europe and the Middle East.


By 2025, more than 7 million electric vehicles are expected to circulate in Germany. This means up to 200,000 public chargers will be needed.

Germany is a long way from achieving this goal, but Berlin-based start-up Ubitricity is part of efforts to improve charging infrastructure. It is developed a solution that turns streetlights into low-cost EV charging stations.

AUTO1 group

When we think of innovation, we often think of new products. But used cars are also a huge market – with around 39m of them sold every year in Europe (against 17 million new ones).

Within the market, Berlin-based startup Auto1, a pan-European online marketplace for used cars, is a giant. It values ​​and buys used cars from individuals, dealers and manufacturers, before reselling them at a profit.

The company has an estimated value of 3 billion euros and has bought back 1 billion euros from the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank. Since 2012, it has expanded to 30 countries.


Electric green buses are commonplace across Europe and are likely owned by FlixMobility, the German unicorn that serves the routes since 2013.

FlixMobility works much like Uber, in that it’s a mobility service that actually doesn’t own any vehicles. While not as glamorous as flying taxis, the startup has tried to liven up bus travel with free wifi and a great app.

It is also more ecological. The information director of the startup Daniel Krauss Said Tamisé he avoids flying as much as possible for environmental reasons, preferring to travel by bus or train.

“We wanted to do something that moves people and society”

“We wanted to do something that moves people and society,” says Krauss. “Now it literally gets people moving, but we didn’t know that when we started. “

In June, the company raised over $ 650 million at a valuation of $ 3 billion to expand in the United States. Last month he acquired Greyhound, the largest provider of long-distance bus travel in the United States.


But of course, Germany isn’t the only country with a booming mobility startup sector. Other countries like Sweden are home to companies that present interesting collaboration opportunities.

Some Swedish startups to watch in this space include electric taxi startup Bzzt, smart electric vehicle charging startup Charge Amps, electric bike company CAKE, manufacturer of electric mopeds Vässla and the Elonroad electric road system.

With significant mobility and charging infrastructures for Germany and Sweden, working together could produce new innovations and market leaders.

To learn more about the mobility innovators who are taking us around the world – and into the future – join the “Swedish-German Mobility Innovation Days 2021In Berlin to see how German automotive expertise and Swedish green innovation can learn from each other.

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