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Autonomous VehiclesBusinessNewsTop StoriesTrucking

Amazon could acquire 20% of Plus for buying $150M of autonomous systems

Warrant-for-product follows similar approach to renewable natural gas purchase

Editor’s Note: CLARIFIES headline and text that stock warrant is contingent on Amazon purchasing autonomous drive systems from Plus and DELETES reference to Amazon having purchased shares

Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been granted a warrant to buy up to a 20% equity stake in high-autonomy software startup Plus if the e-commerce giant purchases up to $150 million worth of PlusDrive self-driving truck systems.

Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V (NASDAQ: HCIC), the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsoring Plus for public trading, disclosed the warrant to Amazon Logistics in a Securities and Exchange Commission 8-K filing on Monday.

The deal was described in the Plus investor deck but did not name the customer. FreightWaves reported in the Truck Talk newsletter May 21 that Amazon was the likely customer based on a similar arrangement it struck recently with Clean Energy Fuels to purchase renewable natural gas. 

Warrant issued Saturday

On Saturday, HCIC issued a warrant to Amazon to purchase up to 420,702,410 Series C-1 preferred shares of Plus, representing approximately 20% of the fully diluted ownership, according to the SEC filing. The preferred shares would convert to common shares when the business combination between Plus and Hennessy concludes. Amazon has eight years to exercise the warrant, which has specific requirements.

An Amazon stake in Plus would be significant because much of the investment in Plus to date has come from Chinese investors. 

Rival TuSimple Holdings (NASDAQ: TSP), which went public via a traditional initial public offering in April, unwound some Chinese ownership to satisfy the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CIFUS), which reviews the national security implications of foreign investments in U.S. companies or operations.

Now it can be told

Amazon evaluated multiple autonomous driving software developers in 2019 and chose Plus as its provider of autonomy-enabled trucks. A master purchase agreement (MPA) signed Jan. 27 this year promised that Plus would provide at least some of 1,000 PlusDrive units between February of this year and 2023.

According to the investor deck, the MPA includes a term sheet requiring Amazon to purchase 10,000 PlusDrive units for the 20% warrant to take effect. Amazon did not respond to a question about whether the specific number of systems is required or if it had been replaced by purchase amount. 

Amazon recently agreed to purchase renewable natural gas (RNG) from Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ: CLNE). As part of the deal, it got a warrant to purchase up to 19.99% of Clean Energy shares.

Plus scores SPAC deal as Wall Streets sizes up TuSimple prospects

Plus will automate Cummins Westport natural gas engine

Plus money: Autonomous technology startup adds $220M to recent capital raise 

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.

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