TuSimple, a forerunner in the realm of autonomous driving technology for heavy-duty trucks, is planning to sell its US operations. This move comes amidst a flurry of changes spanned across a year, which includes a major reshuffling of its management and board, termination of a significant partnership, and accusations of illicitly sharing advanced technology with a Chinese firm. The enterprise aims at fully separating its US operations from trucking programs operating in Asia.
A Strategic Step Towards Growth
The intention is to enhance shareholder value and the decision is not influenced by any pressure related to a review of TuSimple by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), as claimed by CEO Cheng Lu. Despite the absence of a prospective buyer at the moment, this step is expected to mitigate any future national security concerns that CFIUS might raise, nullifying concerns about Research and Development in the US.
Navigating Through Controversies
TuSimple faced a scrutiny by CFIUS following its public listing in 2021, owing to early funding by China-based investors. In addition, the company faced potential espionage charges related to sharing advanced automated driving technology and other sensitive information with Hydron, a Chinese hydrogen truck startup launched by TuSimple cofounder Mo Chen. TuSimple continues to deny any malpractice in this regard.
Advancements and Setbacks
Although TuSimple has carved its niche in the sector of autonomous driving with its advances in automating heavy trucks and various shipping partnerships, the recent hurdles have led to a significant drop in share value. The year 2021 marked a fatal accident involving one of its automated trucks, and an abrupt end to the development partnership with heavy truck manufacturer Navistar, further inviting scrutiny over its technology.
Despite the tumultuous developments, TuSimple’s CEO remains optimistic, stating that the US business isn’t essential at the moment but would be beneficial for the right buyer. A sale could generate more avenues for technological development and shareholder value, given their significant investment in self-driving trucks and related technology.