Toyota Among Investors Backing Airbiquity With $15M for Vehicle Tech

Airbiquity, a Seattle-based developer of connected vehicle systems powering navigation, entertainment, and other software in cars, has raised $15 million in new financing from three Japanese automotive corporations, the company announced Monday.

The investors that participated in the equity funding round are Denso Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), and Toyota Tsusho Corp, which supports Toyota Motor’s automobile business, including the integration of Internet-connected technologies and devices in vehicles.

Airbiquity launched in 1997 and says it has customers in more than 60 countries. The last time it disclosed to United States securities regulators that it had raised outside investment was in 2012, when Airbiquity brought in about $10.4 million in equity funding.

Automakers and their development partners are equipping vehicles with more computer components and high-tech features than ever before. The connected car market is projected to be worth more than $150 billion annually by 2023, according to a report by research firm P&S Intelligence.

Airbiquity is one of the companies developing software that lets drivers access applications that, for example, provide traffic alerts and parking information. The Seattle firm’s products can also download updates and patches for some of the software systems installed in cars, similar to how users can set smartphones to automatically upgrade to the latest version of an app.

Airbiquity is also developing cloud-based technology for smart transportation services, part of the effort to establish a global infrastructure for networked vehicles. The company has many peers, such as Dallas-based Vinli, that are also competing to position their products for managing software and other technologies as the nerve centers of future vehicles.

Toyota has been active in the development of connected car technologies, in part through its autonomous vehicles division, Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development.

Previously, Airbiquity has forged partnerships with Continental, a manufacturer of vehicle components, and AT&T (NYSE: T), which provides mobile connectivity services to automakers across the globe.

In Monday’s news release announcing the funding round, Airbiquity says it plans to work with the three Japanese businesses to commercialize technology allowing vehicles’ software systems to be updated remotely. The organizations also plan to co-develop “new mobility services powered by data and analytics,” Airbiquity says in the release.

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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