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UK’s Auto Data Startup Wejo Eyes SPAC Deal

Automotive data startup Wejo, which is backed by General Motors (GM), could be going public soon through Virtuoso Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Bloomberg reported.

U.K.-based Wejo describes itself as a specialist in connected vehicle data, with its technology interpreting info from over 10 million vehicles, the report stated. The company was founded in 2014 by CEO Richard Barlow.

With the prospect of the merger, Virtuoso is now looking to raise new capital to help support the transaction. The SPAC is looking to raise around $1 billion, according to the report. However, nothing is final, as the transaction may not go through in the end.

GM is among Wejo’s investors, and other investors include Hella Ventures, Platina Partners, DIP Capital and the U.K. government’s Future Fund, the report stated.

Virtuoso is led by CEO Jeffrey Warshaw and Chief Financial Officer Michael Driscoll, who were both radio executives at Connoisseur Media. Virtuoso raised $230 million in a January initial public offering (IPO), according to the report.

Connected car partnerships are becoming more common these days, with Google and Fiat rolling out a new initiative that is a variation on the 500 line of Fiats, PYMNTS reported. The new “Hey Google” edition is intended for riders looking for a more connected journey, including voice commands and the ability to connect with phones or Google Nest Hub devices in the home.

The functionality will allow users to operate the cars remotely.

In addition to Google’s work, there are other companies racing to catch up, including Stellantis brands, with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles planning to be the first international automaker to debut with Amazon’s Alexa, PYMNTS reported. The company said it has already begun making the roadmap to build in the intelligent assistant.

The Alexa Customer Assistant was announced by Amazon earlier this year and was meant as a way to let companies create artificial intelligence (AI) assistants to match their individual brands.

GM Vice President for Global Connected Services Santiago Chamorro said people will be able to choose whether to use Alexa, Google, standard voice controls or an app embedded in the phone.

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