Autonomous Driving Startup TuSimple Explores Sale of China Unit

Autonomous driving startup TuSimple is looking to sell its business in China and focus on the U.S. market, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The decision arrives after the startup reached an agreement with the U.S. government to restrict the China unit’s access to data due to U.S. security concerns.

The company hopes to sell the China unit for up to $1 billion, and has approached several Chinese investors, including private equity firm Boyu Capital, in its search for potential buyers, according to Reuters’ sources. The decision to sell the China business was the result of “tight regulations” in China and the United States, said this person, adding the TuSimple business was expected to “grow independently” after resolving security concerns.

TuSimple, which raised more than $1 billion through an IPO on Nasdaq last April, said in its annual report that it operates about 100 Level 4 autonomous semi-trucks – 75 in the United States and 25 in China – capable of operating without human drivers on certain routes. TuSimple’s operations in China were mainly focused on transportation at ports.

At the end of February this year, TuSimple reached an agreement with U.S. authorities that included giving the U.S. government some amount of oversight related to the technology behind TuSimple’s autonomous trucking operations.

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The measures involve restricting some information, including source code and algorithms for its autonomous trucking operations, from the company’s China division, Jim Mullen, the company’s chief administrative and legal officer, said in an interview. In addition, two board members associated with Sina, a Chinese social media firm, will leave the job after the end of their terms this year.