TuSimple co-founder and CEO Xiaodi Hou on Tuesday responded to financial analysts’ concerns over the potential fallout from a safety investigation following an April 6 accident involving one of its driverless trucks.
“This was an incident with a correctable flaw, not a material change in our business model,” Hou asserted during the company’s second-quarter analyst call. “As CEO of TuSimple, I take responsibility for it.”
The accident and potential safety setback for autonomous trucks was detailed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday. The newspaper noted that the accident, made public by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in June, is under investigation by NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Hou said the accident was caused when a test driver and a safety engineer “attempted to re-enter autonomous driving mode before the system’s computer was prepared to do so”. That forced the truck to swerve and hit a highway barrier, Hou said. “No one was hurt and the only evidence of the accident was a few scratches and some minor damage to our truck.”
After the crash, San Diego-based TuSimple (NASDAQ: TSP ) grounded its entire fleet and began an independent investigation, according to Hou. Despite several claims in the Journal article that the company’s technology is to blame, Hou insisted it was caused by human error.
“Neither FMCSA nor NHTSA has asked us to make any changes, and as part of our review process we’ve upgraded all of our systems to prevent this type of thing from happening again,” Hou said.
The accident and ongoing investigation will not affect the timeline for the commercialization of its driver out technology, said Hou, whose modifications were announced during the company’s first-quarter analyst call in May. The company stated that the path to commercialization by the end of 2023 includes:
- Day and night operations.
- Additional driver routes, including Texas.
- Removal of support vehicles.
- Transporting customers’ goods on the road without a driver.
- Significant reductions in cost per mile, with a clear line of sight to cost parity with human-driven trucks.
“As we prepare for driver operations, we will continue to do so in a prudent manner as we aim to strike a balance between achieving our technology milestones and prudent spending, which is reflected in our updated guidance,” it reported. company on Tuesday.
The updated full-year 2022 guidance includes approximately $950 million in cash at the end of December 31 versus prior guidance of approximately $900 million and an adjusted EBITDA loss of $360 million to $380 million versus prior guidance of $400 million to $420 million.
Highlights of TuSimple Q2
Highlights for the quarter include:
- Total revenue of $2.6 million, up 73% year-over-year and 13% sequentially.
- Loss from operations of $110.7 million, adjusted EBITDA of $82.7 million.
- Cash balance of about $1.16 billion at the end of the quarter, a decrease of $81 million from the first quarter.
- Road miles increased 13% to 8.1 million, from 7.2 million miles in the first quarter.
- A partnership with European logistics company Hegelmann Group, including an initial booking of Level 4 (highly autonomous) trucks purpose-built for operation in North America.
- Ten bookings were added for its purpose-built autonomous trucks, bringing the total to 7,485 bookings as of June 30.
TuSimple also announced that Thomas Jensen, who most recently served as a lobbyist for UPS, will lead the company’s government affairs group to strengthen its federal and state advocacy efforts.
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