Google-backed Chinese trucking startup raises $1.7B

Full Truck Alliance is an investor in Plus, an autonomous trucking company rolling out a Level 3 truck in China starting in 2021

Full Truck Alliance (FTA), a Chinese digital freight-matching startup, has raised $1.7 billion from a group of heavy-hitter investors including SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Sequoia, Permira and Fidelity, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The raise, announced on Tuesday, came two years after FTA, known as Manbang in China,  brought in $1.9 billion from investors including SoftBank and Alphabet Inc.’s venture capital fund Capital G.

Formed by the merger of two rival companies in 2017, Full Truck Alliance is a digital brokerage that connects truck drivers with shippers needing to move cargo.

The startup’s eye-popping raise comes as other digital freight companies are attracting significant late stage investments. Last week investment giant BlackRock led a $70 million investment in Loadsmart, another digital brokerage.  San Diego-based TuSimple this month is reportedly closing a $350 million dollar Series E round.

Full Truck Alliance, which claims its platform has over 10 million verified drivers and 5 million shippers, is an investor in the Silicon Valley-based autonomous trucking startup Plus.

The two companies forged a partnership in 2018 to scale commercial deployment of automated trucks in China, Plus CEO Shawn Kerrigan wrote in an email to FreightWaves.

“We applaud FTA for achieving this significant milestone,” he said, noting that Plus is leveraging FTA’s “expansive logistics network to accumulate enormous amounts of real-world driving miles and scenarios to prove out the safety and reliability of our driving system.”

Starting in 2021, Plus and FAW Jiefang, China’s largest truck maker, will start mass production on Level 3  autonomous Class 8 trucks. Thousands of pre-orders have been received so far, according to Plus.

FTA’s new funding will allow it to further invest in research and development, upgrade its matching system, and expand its service to include door-to-door transportation.