China-based robotruck firm Inceptio announced that it has completed a $270 million Series B transaction, JD Logistics, Meituan, and PAG organized the financing round.
Two Chinese tech giants joining the same financing round is unusual and indicates that they view Inceptio as a vital participant in the market.
Leading the fundraising round is JD Logistics, the delivery division of online retailer JD, life services platform Meituan, and private equity company PAG. Inceptio announced that Deppon, an express delivery company, and IDG Capital are additional investors. The investors didn’t offer a corporate valuation.
According to the release, the Shanghai-based robotruck business would use the fresh capital to speed up investments in electric vehicles and increase internal research on self-driving systems. both JD and Meituan have made investments in driverless technology, although this field has advanced more slowly than many anticipated. With regard to its own self-driving truck initiative, JD appears to be running late.
Midway through 2018, JD showed a model of a highly autonomous truck in Beijing, and according to the sources, the company expected its testing fleet to start operating commercially in 2020. But the company hasn’t made any new information public.
Meituan has also been making investments in autonomous vehicles for a while. The business made investments in Li Auto, a startup making electric automobiles, and Haomo.ai, a company creating automated driving systems for passenger cars.
By the end of this year, two self-driving truck types will be mass produced, according to a March announcement from Inceptio. The models will be jointly created by Dongfeng and Sinotruk, two Chinese automakers.
Inceptio raised $220 million in Series A funding in November. Battery juggernaut CATL, logistics company GLP, and Nio Capital, a company partially founded by electric vehicle manufacturer Nio, are among the investors.
Since its establishment in 2018, Inceptio has raised almost $490 million. In April 2020, it raised $100 million in Series A financing, and then another $100 million in November 2020. Meituan, PAG Deppon Express, and JD Logistics took the lead in the Series B round.
Along with current shareholders GLP Hidden Hill Capital, CATL, NIO Capital, and Eastern Bell Capital, other investors included IDG Capital, CMB International, SDIC, Mirae Asset, Eight Roads, and Broad Vision Funds.
Inceptio is now using Level 3 autonomous heavy-duty vehicles to deploy its technologies. The six-level evaluation of autonomous driving capability by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International has just been updated. Although Level 3 cars are capable of detecting their surroundings and making some decisions, a human driver is still necessary.
Numerous elite Chinese shippers and fleets have embraced the autonomous driving freight network developed by Inceptio Technology. The first A-sample certification for Level 3 autonomous trucks was given to Inceptio in China. It received approval for the A-sample from Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle Co.
According to Inceptio, the validation “marks a significant step forward in the volume manufacturing of L3 autonomous trucks and is a crucial milestone of productization in China’s autonomous driving industry.” By the end of 2021, Inceptio aims to start producing autonomous trucks, according to earlier statements. The company intends to start running a trucking network with its own technology in 2022, according to its end-to-end business model.
At least three businesses that operate autonomous trucks are releasing their technology. In May 2021, Plus announced that it would go public through a $3.3 billion SPAC with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp.
Embark Trucks is also going public via SPAC in a $5.2 billion merger with Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. that is projected to be finished in the second half of 2021.
G7 Networks, Global Logistic Properties, Ltd., and NIO Capital co-founded Inceptio Technology, a Shanghai-based startup, in 2018. It specializes in creating autonomous driving trucks and creating a national freight network. Inceptio is a member of the 5G Autonomous Driving Alliance and works to manage transportation services utilizing autonomous driving technology in addition to developing solutions for self-driving trucks.
With a triangle business strategy that combines autonomous driving development, intelligent vehicle engineering, and a fleet operating unit, Inceptio hopes to take the lead in China’s vast $600 billion but highly fragmented line-haul trucking market. Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles, SINOTRUK, and CATL are a few of the significant business partners that Inceptio has gained along the road.
They’ll start with a few thousand trucks, and over the years, this will increase to perhaps 50,000 or 100,000 trucks across China, building a statewide Robo-trucking network, Inceptio CEO Julian Ma was cited as saying.
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