Self-driving truck company TuSimple reportedly raises $350M

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, a freight rail operator and grocery retailer.

TuSimple declined to comment on the raise.

Girsky is the former vice chairman of General Motors 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.  

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 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.