Self-driving company TuSimple on Tuesday announced it has secured an additional $120 million in an extended Series D, just seven months after receiving $95 million from Chinese internet company Sina as global investors rush to back startups powering the autonomous driving boom.
Why it matters: Self-driving pioneers, previously focused on developing autonomous passenger vehicles, have shifted gears toward commercial vehicles, which hold promise of a more immediate payoff.
- The deal comes days after John Krafcik, CEO of Alphabet’s AV startup Waymo, revealed plans to deploy the company’s technology in the trucking industry, which has been plagued with rising costs and driver shortages.
- Waymo in May resumed its self-driving truck tests in Arizona after a year-long delay while San Francisco-based startup Embark reportedly began hauling cargo for e-commerce giant Amazon this year.
“TuSimple’s technology is at a pivotal point for maturity and it has huge market potential, which is why we wanted to deepen our relationship with TuSimple and become a strategic investor.”
—Jae Chung, CFO of Mando Corporation
Detail: TuSimple announced Tuesday that it has raised an additional $120 million from investors including Chinese private equity firm CDH Investments and Mando Corporation, a South Korean auto parts supplier, to push further into the commercial market.
- Logistics giant UPS, whose VC arm UPS Ventures had taken a minority stake in TuSimple in August.
- The two companies partnered to test roborigs on highways between Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona in March, followed by the launch of pilot cargo service two months later.
- The new funds will be used to expand its long-haul service and co-develop a commercial self-driving truck with OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, the company said in an announcement sent to TechNode on Tuesday.
- The company has more than 18 contracted customers with its autonomous fleet of more than 50 trucks on the road in China and US. It plans to scale the fleet into “several hundreds of trucks” by the end of this year, TuSimple CEO Chen Mo said in an interview to Chinese media in December.
- The extended Series D had been oversubscribed, said the company. TuSimple’s total funding to date totals $298 million, nearly five-fold the size of investments in Embark, its closest rival.