Trunk Tech, a Chinese autonomous truck technology startup backed by EV maker Nio, raised an undisclosed amount in its Series B, the company announced Wednesday. The round was led by state-owned automaker BAIC, which is also partnering with ride-hailing giant Didi to get a fleet of self-driving taxis on public roads by 2025.
Why it matters: Trunk Tech is one of the most promising startups in the Chinese self-driving car space. The Beijing-based company has been backed by a list of prominent investors, and is among several players to test autonomous vehicle systems for hauling freight at domestic harbors.
Details: New investors in this latest fundraising round include private equity firm Pre-IPO Capital Ltd and Zhengzhou municipal investment fund, according to a statement published Wednesday (in Chinese).
- Trunk Tech, which was founded in 2017, said it has delivered more than 100 driverless trucks to clients including China National Offshore Oil Corporation in trial projects at domestic ports in Tianjin and Ningbo.
- The startup said it is operating a testing fleet made of dozens of autonomous trucks, which haul cargo for partners such as JD Logistics, Deppon Logistics, and Alibaba-backed STO Express, with its fleet having now driven 1.5 million kilometers (932,057 miles).
Context: Chinese automobile and tech companies have been racing to develop and commercialize their own self-driving tech which they claim will increase road safety and improve fuel efficiency for traditional trucks.
- TuSimple, which was founded in 2015, was the world’s first self-driving truck company to go public on the US stock market, in April 2021. Its fleet had logged more than 6.3 million miles on public roads as of Dec. 31, 2021, according to its fourth-quarter earnings report. The company plans to start mass producing driverless trucks for clients in 2024.
- Inceptio, a robotruck startup backed by tech giants JD and Meituan, unveiled plans early last year to start mass producing autonomous trucks with automakers Dongfeng and Sinotruk as early as the end of 2021. The company reaffirmed the goal in September, adding its vehicles had passed summer endurance tests.
- Fabu, a company founded by former Didi executive He Xiaofei, nabbed RMB 100 million ($15.4 million) in a Series B+ in August, after testing automated trucks in Zhejiang province’s Ningbo-Zhoushan Port for more than a year.
- Trunk Tech raised an undisclosed Series A from investors including NIO Capital and logistics giant GLP’s investment unit Hidden Hill Capital, in October 2018. Other existing investors include German auto supplier Bosch and artificial intelligence company iFlytek.