The Fuse

This Week In AVs: Luminar Partners With SAIC To Build AVs; TuSimple Files For IPO; And More

by Alex Adams | @alexjhadams | March 25, 2021

Luminar Announces Partnership With China’s Biggest Automaker
Last week, American lidar manufacturer Luminar announced a partnership with SAIC, China’s largest automaker, to enable autonomous capabilities in the company’s new R brand electric vehicle line that is expected to go into production next year. Luminar will also open an office in Shanghai to support the venture. Using Luminar’s Iris lidar integrated into the roofs of SAIC’s R brand vehicles—and running on Luminar’s software—the companies say the partnership will produce China’s first autonomous production vehicles.

The companies say the partnership will produce China’s first autonomous production vehicles.

The development is the latest step forward for Luminar and its 26-year-old CEO Austin Russell, who recently became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. “This is really our first foray into China—and it won’t be the last,” he told Forbes. “From a commercial standpoint, this is definitely the most significant event we’ve had in a year since Volvo.”

AV Truck Company TuSimple Files For IPO
Skipping the popular SPAC route that many automotive tech companies have opted for in recent months, American-Chinese autonomous trucking startup TuSimple filed for an IPO on Tuesday as it aims to capture a share of the $800 billion U.S. commercial trucking market. According to the filing, the Wall Street Journal reports that last year the company posted revenue of $1.8 million and reported a net loss of $177.9 million—reflecting, as the Journal notes, the fact that the autonomous trucking industry is still in its nascent stages.

The IPO comes as fellow AV trucking startup Kodiak Robotics announced a partnership with Chinese AV technology manufacturer Hesai Technology to integrate the Chinese lidar into the autonomous trucking system. Reuters reported Kodiak CEO Don Burnette as saying Kodiak will use a Hesai lidar on each side of the truck and will also keep one forward-facing lidar from American lidar manufacturer Luminar.

Chinese EV Company Attempts Ambitious Cross-Country Drive
Guangzhou-based EV automaker XPeng is currently driving a fleet of its P7 vehicles 2,284 miles across China from Guangzhou to Beijing—the equivalent of New York City to Salt Lake City—in order to demonstrate the performance of its newly-released autonomous driving assistance function called Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP). Xpeng is hoping to use NGP for the highway miles on this journey, which represents 85 percent of the entire trip, or 1,954 miles.

Throughout the journey, XPeng is releasing data from each day, with the success rates for lane changing and overtaking, highway ramp entering and exiting, and tunnel passing through used as metrics, measured as percentages. On the first leg of the journey, a 236-mile drive from Guangzhou to Shantou, XPeng stated that it managed to drive the route with an average of 1.05 human driver interventions per every 100 miles driven. This increased slightly on the second day, a 137-mile journey from Shantou to Quanzhou, with an average of 1.37 human driver interventions per every 100 miles driven.