BMW and Volvo Confirm Investments in Zūm, a Kids-Only Ride-Hailing Service

Would you put your kids in a car with a complete stranger?

byStephen Edelstein|
BMW News photo

BMW and Volvo simultaneously announced Friday that they will invest in Zūm, a California-based ride-hailing service for children. Founded in 2015, Zūm allows parents and schools to book rides for kids to get to classes or extracurricular activities. Rides can also be bundled with child care.

Neither automaker disclosed the amounts of their investments, which were part of a recent funding round for Zūm. Both investments were made by the automakers' respective tech venture-capital arms: BMW i Ventures and the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. The money will go toward expanding Zūm's footprint and development of new technology, according to a BMW press release announcing the German automaker's investment.

Where traditional ride-hailing services compete with taxis and public transit, Zūm aims to compete with school buses. It uses algorithms and machine learning to create more efficient routes, according to a Volvo press release. Parents can also track their kids' journeys in real time through an app.

Zūm drivers must have a clean driving record and previous child-care experience. Each driver is subjected to a driving test and "multiple background checks," according to Volvo. The driver's car must pass a 22-point inspection.

The service currently operates only in California's Orange County and the San Francisco Bay Area. Zūm currently serves more than 2,000 public, private, and charter schools in these areas, according to BMW, including more than 100 new school districts added in 2018.

Both BMW and Volvo view mobility services like Zūm as an important way to expand their operations. BMW, which already operates car-sharing and ride-hailing services, is launching a mobility-service joint venture with arch rival Daimler. Last year, Volvo announced a new mobility-focused sub-brand called M. The Swedish automaker even eliminated cars from its 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show stand to draw attention to its mobility-service projects.