TuSimple Eyes US Exit, Hires Bankers
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TuSimple is exploring strategic alternatives for its U.S. operations, including a sale, which would see the self-driving truck technology provider focus on Asia-Pacific activities instead, the company said.
The San Diego-based company said June 28 it had hired investment bankers at Perella Weinberg Partners to explore the options for the U.S.-based portion of its business. TuSimple stressed in a statement that its U.S. and Asian businesses have been stand-alone operations since the company was founded in 2015.
Previously, TuSimple was considering selling off its Asian operations, but in May it revealed that plan had been scotched and the company would renew its push to develop Level 4 autonomous trucking in multiple Asian markets.
Autonomous vehicles typically are organized in class levels between 1 and 5. Human interaction is not required in most circumstances for Level 4, but a driver can still manually override systems.
The TuSimple Domain Controller is powered by the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin SoC. It will enable a full suite of ADAS and L4 autonomous solutions.
Learn more at https://t.co/XovnP3Z55T #autonomoustrucks pic.twitter.com/YYP5JrpE4M — TuSimple (@TuSimpleAI) April 25, 2023
In June, TuSimple said it had started Level 4 test runs on a major Japanese freight corridor. The Tomei Expressway connects freight moving among Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka — three of the four largest cities in the country.
Also in May, the company revealed it would cut 30% of its global head count, but all the positions on the chopping block would be American. That was not TuSimple’s first downsizing of the past 12 months, though. In December 2022, the company laid off 25% of its staff, with the “majority” also U.S. positions, as part of a cost-cutting push.
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Pressure on company executives has mounted as 2023 has progressed on a number of fronts. TuSimple said May 11 that Nasdaq told it May 5 of plans to delist the company due a failure to file quarterly earnings statements. The company said it planned to appeal the delisting.
However, TuSimple did see one positive development. In March, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration cleared the company in relation to an April 2022 Arizona incident in which one of TuSimple’s trucks struck an interstate highway barrier.
A steady flow of negative developments was seen in 2022, though. Truck maker Navistar ended co-development of autonomous trucks with TuSimple in December 2022. Production had been scheduled to start next year.
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And in October 2022, TuSimple booted Xiaodi Hou, the company’s CEO, chairman and chief technology officer. TuSimple said the move related to an ongoing investigation led by its audit committee, which prompted the board to decide a change of CEO was necessary.
The company also was the focus of a probe by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a panel that reviews the national security implications of overseas investments.
TuSimple settled the investigation in February 2022 by modifying its board and by giving some oversight to the U.S. government.
The downturn in fortunes from 2021 was stark. When TuSimple went public in April 2021, it raised $1 billion and was valued at $8.5 billion. In June 2021, the share price peaked at $59. TuSimple shares were trading at $1.66 June 30, down 9.79% compared with their June 29 close. The stock closed at $7.23 on June 30, 2022.