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Plus, a developer of autonomous truck technology, added $220 million in funding. This is an extension to the $200 million round raised in February 2021, bringing the round to a total of $420 million. Plus has now raised about $620 million since it was founded in 2016.
The new financing was co-led by FountainVest Partners and ClearVue Partners, with participation from Quanta Computer Inc. and Millennium Technology Value Partners. The company’s existing investors including Sequoia Capital China, SAIC Capital, and Full Truck Alliance (FTA) also participated. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company raised $100 million in November 2020.
Plus said it plans to use the new funding to accelerate the global commercialization and deployment of its full-stack autonomy platform across the U.S., China, Europe and other parts of Asia. Automated trucks powered by Plus’ Level 4 technology will start mass production this year. The company said more than 10,000 units have already been pre-ordered. Its autonomous driving technology can be installed on existing trucks or built into new trucks. Plus told The Robot Report a human driver will remain in the cabin for the foreseeable future.
Mass production for an automated truck jointly developed with FAW, the world’s largest heavy truck maker, is set to start this summer. Plus is working with some of the largest fleets in the U.S. and China, such as SF Express, China’s largest logistics company, to pilot commercial freight operations.
“Self-driving technology will be transformational for the trucking industry by making our world safer and greener, and helping fleets drive more fuel efficiency and reduce operating costs,” said Alex Zhang, partner and head of the industrial group at FountainVest. “With the mass production of its autonomous driving system this year, Plus is hitting an important inflection point for the company. We’re thrilled to contribute to the company’s success.”
While Plus got its start in the U.S., it’s also gained significant traction in China. It partnered with the FTA, a Chinese startup often referred to as the “Uber of Trucks.” The FTA is raising about $1.7 billion to further expand its business ahead of an initial public offering in 2021. Plus will help develop the autonomous trucks, which the FTA will sell on its platform.
“Speeding up the development of autonomous trucking technology will create immense economic and environmental impact,” said Peter Chiu, head of private equity, Guotai Junan International. “Plus is well poised to take a leadership role in driving this fundamental change in the transportation industry, and we are proud to support them in this important mission.”
“Through its innovations in autonomous driving technology and business model, Plus has started to deliver the benefits of autonomous trucking by applying the technology to trucks today,” said Gordon Wan, principal at SAIC Capital. “The thoughtful approach that Plus is taking to build a sustainable company will pave way for its continued success.”