Autonomous Driving Startup Plus May Split Chinese Team, Mulls Listing

Plus, a self-driving truck company, may initiate its US listing plan again by merging its Chinese business into Full Truck Alliance, a digital freight platform. The official announcement will be unveiled in March this year. Later on, Full Truck Alliance will merge Plus China into Suzhou Zhito Technology, a self-driving truck company jointly founded by Plus and FAW Jiefang in September 2019, local media outlet Cybercar reported on February 14.

Plus responded, “It is not true that we will merge Plus China into Suzhou Zhito Technology, and we have no more information to share for the time being.”

Plus’ intention to merge its businesses in China emerged after its first failure to debut on the US stock market. In May 2021, Plus announced that it had signed a merger agreement with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V, a special purpose acquisition company. After the merger was completed, Plus was to use the ticker symbol “PLAV” to list and trade on the NYSE in the third quarter of that year.

At that time, the Plus’ market value after the merger would have been about $3.3 billion, while also receiving new financing worth about $500 million. However, everything went south in November of the same year. The two sides explained that the regulatory environment outside the US had changed and, as a result, Plus was trying to restructure some of its businesses.

At that time, TuSimple, a self-driving truck company listed in the US with businesses in China, was being continuously investigated by the US. Meanwhile, Didi, a ride-hailing giant, has also been under scrutiny by local authorities since its operational data is said to involve national security.

However, on February 9, Hesai Technology, a Chinese lidar company, successfully debuted on the Nasdaq, raising $190 million, which is the largest IPO of Chinese issuers in the US market after the “Didi accident” in 2021.

SEE ALSO: Plus Delivers 100 Factory-Installed Autonomous Heavy Trucks

Interestingly, Lightspeed Venture Partners, the largest external capital firm after the listing of Hesai Technology, and its funds are also investors of Plus. If Plus is listed in the future, Lightspeed Venture Partners will once again realize a successful investment in the field of autonomous driving.

As the future acquirer of Plus China, Full Truck Alliance has a long history with Plus both at the capital level and at the business level. Full Truck Alliance has participated in many rounds of financing of Plus. As early as September 2020, Plus signed a cooperation agreement with Full Truck Alliance, and both parties carried out commercial operations based on L3-level self-driving heavy trucks, while the vehicles were jointly developed by Plus and FAW Jiefang.