Volvo Backs Ride-Sharing Service for Children

Volvo is investing in a ride-sharing start-up that takes children to and from school.

The automaker has acquired a stake in Zūm, a Californian service offering school run and childcare services to parents. The investment was made through the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, the company’s venture capital arm focused on electrification, autonomous vehicles, mobility services, and artificial intelligence which has previously invested in LiDAR maker Luminar.

Zūm claims its drivers all have to have clean driving records, previous childcare experience, and have passed driving tests and several background checks. They have to use their own cars, which are subject to 22-point inspections. Its service works by using algorithms and machine learning to match drivers with children needing to take particular routes.  Zūm claims the children’s parents can hail a driver using a smartphone app and the children’s ride can then be monitored by them and their school using the app.

Zūm currently only operates in California but says it plans to expand to Dallas and Chicago. Volvo said it may supply its vehicles to the start-up for fleet use and integrate Zūm into its Care by Volvo subscription services. The funding signals a move by the automaker into the niche ‘ride-sharing for schoolchildren’ market, also occupied by HopSkipDrive and Kango, the latter of which agreed a partnership with Chrysler in 2017 to use that automaker’s Pacifica hybrid mini-vans.


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