Driverless Truck Startup Plus to List in $3.3 Billion SPAC Deal
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Self-driving truck technology developer Plus announced it entered into a definitive business combination agreement with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V, a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company.
Once completed, Plus will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PLAV.
The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter and capitalize Plus with $3.3 billion. It will also put $500 million into its coffers, including $345 million of cash held in Hennessy Capital Investment’s trust account from its own initial public offering in January.
“We are excited to partner with Plus on their mission to make longhaul trucking safer, cheaper, and better for the environment,” Daniel Hennessy, chairman and CEO of Hennessy Capital Investment, said in a release.
The year is 2039. Zero-emission, electric heavy-duty trucks roll past you on the highway. Charging ports are now commonplace at terminals and truck stops. Diesel-powered vehicles are becoming a thing of the past. You sit and wonder: How did we get here? Here, in 2021, Daimler Trucks North America's head of eMobility speaks to RoadSigns. Hear a snippet above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.
The market opportunity for autonomous longhaul trucking has been estimated at approximately $1.2 trillion for the United States and China, the company said.
“This transaction enables Plus to continue growing our business globally, so that fleets and drivers can benefit from our revolutionary technology and usher in a new generation of innovation,” David Liu, CEO and co-founder of Plus, said in a release.
Cupertino, Calif.-based Plus, which was founded in 2016, reported it expects to start generating revenue this year from mass-produced and retrofitted trucks as the company begins its SL4 (supervised Level 4) truck production and delivery in China and the United States.
Chinese truck maker FAW — which Plus called the world’s largest heavy truck manufacturer and one that produced more heavy-duty trucks in 2020 than both the United States and European markets — will be one such customer this year, Plus said.
Plus also reported one of the largest U.S. private truck fleets, which it did not name, selected it to provide 1,000 autonomy-enabled trucks and Plus has begun delivering its initial batch of PlusDrive-enabled retrofit units.
PlusDrive uses advanced sensing technologies, including radar, lidar and cameras to provide a 360-degree sensing system. The data gathered through the sensors help the system identify objects nearby, plan its course, predict the movement of those objects, and finally control the vehicle to make its next move safely.
SAE International has defined Level 4 autonomous driving as a truck that can drive itself under certain conditions without any driver input or backup assistance.
Plus noted it plans to reach full autonomy with Level 4 trucks by the end of 2024.
In related news, in April autonomous truck developer TuSimple raised $1.35 billion through its initial public offering, a move that will help fund the company’s push to commercialize self-driving trucks and expand its autonomous freight network across the United States.
Also in April, Plus announced it appointed former federal official Wiley Deck to serve as vice president of government affairs and public policy.
Deck was most recently deputy administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Earlier, Plus announced it signed a memorandum of understanding with Iveco, a brand of CNH Industrial N.V., to jointly develop autonomous trucks that will be deployed across China, Europe and other areas.
Additionally, Plus announced a new initiative with engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. to develop what Plus called the industry’s first driver-in, supervised autonomous trucks powered by natural gas.
The trucks are expected to come to market in 2022.
Shawn Kerrigan, co-founder and chief operating officer at Plus, said the announcement marks “a convergence of these two disruptive trends reshaping trucking — alternative fuel systems and autonomous technologies commercialized together.”
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