July 6, 2023
Self-driving truck company TuSimple says it is considering selling its United States business to focus on the Asian market.
The announcement follows a turbulent period for the firm in America, which has included two major restructures with the loss of hundreds of staff, and a possible delisting from the Nasdaq stock exchange for failing to file reports.
In a statement, TuSimple said it is now “evaluating strategic alternatives for its U.S. business” – among these a potential sale. As such, the company has engaged Perella Weinberg Partners as a financial advisor to explore potential transactions.
Since its establishment in 2015, TuSimple has developed what it claims to be “the world’s most advanced self-driving technologies” for heavy-duty trucks. It offers full-stack onboard driving software that delivers a suite of Level 2+ to Level 4 autonomous solutions, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
But its businesses in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific region have evolved in a distinct fashion, operating with stand-alone engineering teams and infrastructure. And increasingly its priority has been Asia, as activities in America have been significantly reduced on account of the funding shortfall that has hit the autonomous vehicle (AV) sector.
In December, hundreds of U.S. staff lost their jobs as part of a cost-cutting plan and in May there were a further 300 redundancies. At the same time, it has been forging ahead in the Far East. In mid-June, it revealed how it had begun Level 4 autonomous testing on the Tomei Expressway, a leading freight corridor in Japan and confirmed it received a license allowing fully driverless testing in the Pudong area of Shanghai in China.
The company is also believed to be considering operations elsewhere, including Western Australia and even Western Europe.
As things stand, it is understood that TuSimple would countenance the sale of its entire operation in America or individual elements of it. But it also admitted that a sale was not a formality, with the statement acknowledging: “No assurances can be given that TuSimple’s exploration of strategic alternatives will result in any change in strategy or a transaction. The decision to explore strategic alternatives for the US business was guided by the company’s review of multiple business factors and commercial opportunities.”
The company has faced scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States because of its funding from China, but it’s been denied that this is a factor in its decision. However, CEO Cheng Lu admitted to Forbes that a sale “would be the most meaningful step in terms of mitigating any future national security concerns CFIUS could have. If you don't even have R&D in the U.S., then there is no national security concern.”
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