Autonomous Trucks Startup Company Plus Explores SPAC Options

By James White Sunday, March 14, 2021

As we barrel toward a future full of autonomous delivery vehicles and autonomous cars, startup companies and businesses continue to draw the attention of investors as they revolutionize the transportation industry. Autonomous trucks startup company Plus is reportedly mulling over several potential SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, mergers as the business plans to go public.

A semi-truck on a highway.

The California-based autonomous driving startup business has already garnered $300 million from investors since its founding in 2016. CPE Capital, GSR Ventures, and Sequoia Capital China are among those backing the company. The startup business generated $200 million from its latest Series B in February.

Making Long-Haul Trucking Safer and More Efficient

“Trucking accidents and growing truck driver shortage affect our economy and daily lives,” said David Liu, CEO and co-founder of the autonomous trucks startup company. “All of us at Plus are inspired every day to develop automated trucks that are going to make our world safer and greener, and help fleets drive more fuel efficiently and reduce operating costs.”

Founded by Liu as well as entrepreneurs Hao Zheng and Shawn Kerrigan, the startup business develops an automated driving system for trucks transporting goods over long distances. The technology is either retrofitted to existing trucks or offered as an upgrade when manufacturing new trucks.

The system designed by the autonomous trucks startup company utilizes several cameras, lidars, and radars to form a 360-degree perceptive field around the autonomous vehicle, allowing the truck to have a detailed sense of where other cars are on the road and ensuring a safe trip. The system also features several functional redundancies in its equipment, which means when a sensor or camera malfunctions, the autonomous trucks will still be able to operate effectively and safely.

The startup company has already partnered with FAW Jiefang, one of China’s largest heavy truck manufacturers in the business, to mass-produce the FAW J7+, which will be powered by the technology developed by Plus. The autonomous trucks are slated for production sometime this year.

Competition in the Autonomous Trucking Industry

Plus is not the only company on a mission to disrupt the trucking business. Elon Musk’s Tesla also produces its own autonomous truck, the Semi. Tesla’s electric vehicle (EV) sports an enhanced autopilot, and the company claims that the self-driving truck offers over $200,000 in fuel savings compared to diesel.

Market research projects the autonomous trucks industry to be valued over $1.6 billion by 2025. Plus and Tesla, among other startups, continue to pursue widespread adoption of self-driving, heavy transport vehicles and drive the industry forward.

About the Author

Headshot for author James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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