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The state of the autonomous vehicle industry in 2021

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This article was written by Marc Amblard, Founder & Managing Director, Orsay Consulting on The Urban Mobility Daily, the content site of the Urban Mobility Company, a Paris-based company which is moving the business of mobility forward through physical and virtual events and services. Join their community of 10K+ global mobility professionals by signing up for theUrban Mobility Weekly newsletter. Read the original articlehere and follow them onLinkedin andTwitter.

Autonomous Vehicles (AV) hit the bottom of Gartner Hype Cycle’s trough of disillusionment in 2019-2020. Since the middle of last year, we have observed an acceleration in funding and valuation which has led to a few acquisitions. More importantly, this is further singling out a few major players which accelerate their technology development and the deployment of pilots. In addition, these select companies are aggregating an increasing number of OEMs, both light vehicles and heavy trucks, around them — the latter are shifting more of their focus to EVs and software development.

AD system majors have raised billions in the last few months

In the past 9 months, five of the main autonomous driving system (ADS) developers have raised over $4B in total. Cruise benefited from the largest round with $2.75B raised largely from Microsoft and retail giant Walmart at a $30B valuation! Likewise, Aurora, Pony.ai, WeRide and Didi’s AV entity each raised $300M to $400M in the last few months.

We can also suspect that the OEMs that have engaged in partnerships with these companies (see below) have committed to making hefty financial contributions for the right to access the tech for pilots in the mid-term and for production in the longer term.

Another path to raising funds is to go public. Sino-American autonomous trucking startup TuSimple was just introduced on the US stock market, raising about $1.1B at an $8.5B valuation. Similarly, Argo AI, in which Ford and Volkswagen each own 40%, is considering doing the same later this year. This could reduce the pressure on the two OEMs as Argo AI needs to secure its financial runway.

Credit: Autonomy Paris