Trucks VC launches two new funds for early and late-stage transportation startups

Trucks Venture Capital, a fund that focuses on early-stage entrepreneurs in transportation, is launching two new funds that it says will help build the future of transportation.

Its new core fund, Trucks Venture Fund 2 (TVF2), was raised over the last year and recently closed on $52,525,252. The fund is backed by three auto OEMs and three auto suppliers that make everything from bicycles to Class 8 big rig trucks, as well as one communications company, according to Trucks VC. The VC’s new follow-on fund, Trucks Growth Fund, will provide later-stage capital to some of the most promising companies already in Trucks’ portfolio.

“Our mission is to fund companies making transportation safer, cleaner and more accessible,” Reilly Brennan, general partner at Trucks VC, told TechCrunch.

“Safer” companies that Trucks VC looks to invest in might focus on automated vehicles, driver monitoring or vehicle maintenance and improvements. Because we are at the beginning of a decade for zero-emission transportation, “cleaner” looks like batteries and charging, electric and hydrogen vehicle platforms and last-mile logistics. And “more accessible” means companies that focus on micromobility and mass transit, according to Brennan.

“We also believe heavily in automated vehicles in structured environments (agriculture, mining, logistics),” said Brennan. “Given the focus on delivery and changing consumer behavior, it’s not hard to see how logistics AV becomes more valuable than robotaxi. I would go so far as to say the forthcoming exits from those sectors in AV will make the previous five years of robotaxi exits (Cruise, nuTonomy, Zoox) look relatively low in comparison.”

Trucks VC is also looking beyond the micromobility horizon. Brennan says a lot of the VCs with “good hair” have been calling the end of micromobility, so now’s the perfect time to spot emerging companies building a new wave of ideas in B2B, hardware and operating systems. The investment firm will follow these criteria when searching for both newer startups for TVF2 and for the Growth Fund.

The Growth Fund is the first formal entity Trucks VC has established for later-stage companies, although it’s selected a few follow-on investments in the past, says Brennan.

“The origin of this is somewhat unusual: we have this amazing community of people who read our newsletter (FoT) and they have been asking us for investing opportunities for years,” said Brennan. “Once Naval Ravikant showed us the platform they built at AngelList for rolling funds, we decided to use it. I think we’re the first venture fund that is using the new rolling fund structure as a growth fund.”

The growth fund might kick off its portfolio by investing in Universal Hydrogen, Gatik and Bear Flag Robotics, according to Brennan. TVF2 has already made seed investments to Universal Hydrogen — an LA-based startup that’s developing hydrogen storage solutions and conversion kits for commercial aircraft. Universal Hydrogen recently closed a $20.5 million Series A round led by investor syndicate Playground Global.

TVF2 also made a seed investment and participated in a $17.5 million Series A to Swyft, a company trying to rival Amazon on same-day retail delivery, and it provided seed funding to Token Transit, a mobile ticket booking app.

Trucks VC makes up to eight investments from its core seed funds every year, and the Growth Fund will similarly invest in one or two companies each quarter. The San Francisco-based fund, founded in 2015, has invested in well-known exits such as Joby Aviation and DeepScale, which was acquired by Tesla.