TuSimple’s Autonomous Truck Fleets Available for Bidding After Pulling Out of the U.S. Market

Ten of TuSimple’s autonomous big rigs are set to be auctioned off later this month, just a few weeks after the self-driving trucking startup that went public in 2021 announced it was exiting the U.S. market. The trucks, along with a slew of research and development equipment and office supplies, will be sold off in two online auctions. A spokesperson for the auction company confirmed 10 trucks will “initially” be sold. The company went public in 2021 and was swiftly scrutinized by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States over its Chinese shareholders. In December, the company said it would exit the U.S. altogether and laid off more than 150 workers as a result.

Ten of TuSimple’s autonomous big rigs are up for auction, a mere few weeks after the self-driving trucking startup made the surprising announcement of leaving the U.S. market in 2021.

The trucks, as well as research and development equipment and office supplies, will be sold off in two online auctions. The first auction will take place on January 23-25, followed by a second one on February 6-8. A spokesperson from the auction company has confirmed that 10 trucks will be sold in the initial auction. It is unclear what will happen to the remaining 25 trucks, as TuSimple had previously reported having 35 autonomous trucks in the United States.

This sudden turn of events, from a highly esteemed startup to a mere “Incredible Offer!!” in an online auction, is a clear indication of the challenging terrain that AV startups are facing.

Embark Technologies, which also auctioned off some trucks, was sold in 2023, only two years after going public with a valuation of over $5 billion. Similarly, Argo AI, backed by major investors Ford and Volkswagen, shut down in late 2022. Cruise, after one of its AVs was involved in a crash, had to halt operations, lay off employees, and replace several executives.

TuSimple, founded in 2015, emerged as one of the early contenders in the race to develop completely autonomous trucks for long-distance transport. It even secured a brief deal in 2019 to transport mail between the U.S. Postal Service’s Phoenix and Dallas distribution centers.

Despite portraying itself as an American startup, TuSimple’s founders and financing originated from China. The company went public in 2021, but immediately came under scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States due to its Chinese shareholders. Subsequently, investigations were launched by the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the company lost a crucial partnership with trucking giant Navistar in late 2022 to develop self-driving big rigs. As a result, the company’s share price plummeted from a high of $62.58 in July 2021 to a dismal $0.73 today.

In 2023, TuSimple shifted its focus multiple times, initially announcing plans to sell off its China business and then reversing course to consider unloading its U.S. operations. Ultimately, in December, the company confirmed its exit from the U.S., leading to the layoff of over 150 employees.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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