The recipient of the major financial backing was Plus.ai, who Guotai Junan International Holdings Limited (GTJAI) call the “world-leader” in self-driving truck technology. The aim of the funding? To jointly support Plus to realise the mass production, deployment and global commercialisation of a new generation of automated high-level, self-driving heavy trucks.
At present, Plus has established in-depth strategic partnerships with a number of heavy-truck OEMs and logistics fleets. GTJAI says the injection of new capital will further assist the global commercialisation of Plus and promote the application of mass-produced, self-driving heavy trucks.
In China, Plus has assisted FAW Jiefang, a leading commercial vehicle company, to launch a high-level self-driving heavy truck called J7 L3, which will be mass-produced and launched in mid-2021. At the same time, Plus and SF Express, the Chinese logistics giant, have achieved normalised commercial trial operations. In the United States, Plus will also simultaneously launch mass-produced automated driving products in 2021 to serve leading logistics customers.
Plus is an international technology company with Level 4 R&D capabilities – when driving automation systems can perform all dynamic driving tasks, including the ability to take over within its designed operating conditions if the human passenger does not respond. Focusing on the R&D and application of self-driving heavy trucks in expressway transportation, Plus was founded in 2016 in Silicon Valley, USA, and has R&D centres in California, Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou. It says it is committed to, “improving road safety, reducing fuel consumption, increasing fleet efficiency, and transforming the logistics and transportation industry”.
Peter Chiu, Head of Private Equity Investment and Managing Director, said, “The world’s freight industry has a huge potential market. Self-driving truck technology can solve many pain points in the heavy truck industry by reducing manual control, reducing bad driving habits, achieving fuel saving and cost reduction and improving use safety, which can help environmental protection and sustainable development. GTJAI values the huge truck freight market, Plus’s global team, excellent technology and in-depth cooperation with global strategic partners, and hopes that the cooperation with Plus, it will support the accelerated implementation of truck-assisted driving in the truck logistics scene and automated driving industry”.
In recent years, automated driving has become an important breakthrough in the transformation of the automotive industry. For GTJAI, it is also the key to the technological transformation of the smart logistics industry who says that whilst supporting innovative businesses, it also “lays the foundation for providing its wealth management clients with a more high-quality product portfolio in the future”.
With an A+ round of financing in 2018 and past shareholders that include Sequoia Capital, GoldenSand Capital, China Growth Capital, Lightspeed Capital, Mayfield and SAI, the commercial investment possibilities for Plus could be huge – and not only for them. Plus’ rival TuSimple filed for a U.S. IPO recently, whilst other self-driving companies such as Velodyne, Luminar Technologies and Aeva have also recently filed to go public, banking on a boom in U.S. capital markets. A European pilot begins in 2021.
Guotai Junan International is a market leader and the first Chinese securities broker listed on the Main Board of The Hong Kong Stock Exchange by way of an initial public offering. Based in Hong Kong, the Company provides “diversified integrated financial services”, with core services including wealth management, corporate finance, loans and financing, asset management as well as financial products.