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Autonomous VehiclesFinanceNewsTrucking

Self-driving truck company TuSimple reportedly raises $350M

VectoIQ, the company that led the reverse merger with Nikola, led the raise, according to Forbes.

Self-driving trucking company TuSimple reportedly has raised about $350 million in a Series E round closing this month, according to Forbes.

Citing two people “familiar with the matter,” Forbes said the raise was being led by consulting and investment firm VectoIQ, helmed by Steve Girsky, and includes additional investment from current partners Navistar (NYSE: NAV) and Volkswagen’s Traton Group, a freight rail operator and grocery retailer.

TuSimple declined to comment on the raise.

Girsky is the former vice chairman of General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and VectoIQ led the reverse merger that made Nikola a public company in June.

According to the Forbes article, TuSimple also plans to sell shares via a traditional IPO and not through a SPAC merger, as other outlets had reported.

One of several startups aiming to automate the long haul, TuSimple has made a series of announcements over the past six months advancing commercialization and deployment of its Class 8 autonomous trucks. 

The San Diego-headquartered company launched an autonomous freight network in July aimed at scaling deployment, opened a hub in Dallas and formed partnerships with OEMs Navistar and the Traton Group.  

Other recent developments include partnerships with transportation providers U.S. Xpress and Penske Truck Leasing, and Berkshire Hathaway-owned grocery and food-service distributor McLane. 

Considered a leader in the self-driving truck space, TuSimple has said repeatedly that it will put a fully autonomous truck on the road in 2021.

At the same time, however, the privately held company has attracted scrutiny for overplaying earlier investments.

The Information reported in October that the partnerships between TuSimple and Navistar and the Traton Group were not as substantive as initial press coverage might have indicated. 

Additionally, a high-profile partnership with UPS turned out to be less than momentous, with the logistics giant handing over just $2.5 million for a 0.2% stake.

It’s virtually impossible to get a handle on the finances of the startups operating in the highly competitive self-driving truck space, consultant Richard Bishop told FreightWaves earlier this year.

“The amount of [financial] information available publicly on these companies is tiny,” he said. “Analysts are working on very thin information.”

With the latest cash infusion, its largest to date, TuSimple has raised a total of $600 million since launching in 2015.

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to lbaker@freightwaves.com.

5 Comments

  1. 600 million. Ahh the industry is so fu**ed. We just spent the last How many years Arguing about electronic logs. Now drug testing and parking. WHY!? We’re so focused on dumb things. Please old white guys ( ata tia) just let it be! The same ppl that grew out of deregulation are now the same groups trying to lobby it their way. Autonomous will have advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day it’s about profit. Apple didn’t invent the smart phone. We’re going to mess up some kids vision of the future and be stuck with group think. Ps autonomous ain’t it! To SLOW!!

    1. Deregulation started in 1980, probably before you were born. It was signed into law by Jimmy Carter and the industry has never been the same. Drug testing started in 1991, so it’s been around for quite awhile,probably before you were born. The trucking industry is right now where the printing industry was 30 years ago. Nobody ever believed that they would be put out of business. Self driving trucks are coming because trucking company’s want them. They don’t have to pay them,give them hospital insurance, 401k’s or deal with whiny drivers. They can run 24 hours a day stopping only to fuel. You’re right when you say it’s all about profit. Because it’s ALWAYS been about profit never anything else. It’s not old white guys it’s anybody that runs a trucking company.

      1. I agree with your perspective here, but it goes further than just profits. 5G is going to revolutionize self driving vehicles and that includes trucks. Tusimple has stated that they will have full country wide runs by 2023. I think that’s going to be a big year for everyone, especially tech. DNA mapping and genome sequencing will cost a hundred bucks leading to ‘precise’ medicine and better treatment.
        CRISPR technology has already cured babies born blind and one woman’s sickle cell anemia using those DNA maps. Heart disease and cancer cures are coming next.
        5G smartphones and 5G smart watches will be a ‘doctor in your pocket’ or on your wrist. That same 5G tech will be 100 times faster than 4G, it reduces latency to instantaneous so connected devices can be much smaller and more efficient with better sensors like blood pressure, temperature and accurate heart rate among other things.
        The 5G spectrum will be used to keep the self driving vehicles connected with each other so they can all act in tandem, reducing accidents, traffic congestion and delays, even while driving in traffic with human drivers on the road. The self driving vehicles combined with the 5G tech will allow self driving vehicles to react and respond much faster to the random behavior of the people driving than people can.
        It’s like anti-lock brakes that pump the brakes a thousand times a second. People can’t do that. Not to mention the ever improving and advancing traction control and skid control systems already in place.
        Trucking industries live on delivering on time, avoiding accidents and delays and fuel efficiency which self driving will give them.
        Everyone will be safer and insurance rates will plummet to boot.
        None of this happens overnight. Even if all the tech necessary was perfected now, it takes a few years to get it all built out, the necessary infrastructure installed and people have to swap their old tech, including their cars, with new tech.
        So it’s coming. Some, like the medical stuff will come in the next 3 to 5 years. The self driving part will take longer, probably over ten or 15 years for a majority of vehicles to be autonomous.
        So bottom line: invest in the companies that are making all this a reality.
        The future is rapidly approaching. You might as well get in early (stocks) and benefit later from the foresight when all your friends are dumbfounded by it all because they didn’t see it coming 💰💰💰

  2. Navistar is biting the hand that feeds it. These driverless truck will make Swift drivers look good. And the death toll will increase. Especially in bad weather.

    What they aren’t telling you is the numerous times a driver has had to “take” control of a truck to prevent accidents. Or of the deaths that have occurred on I 10.

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