Steve Girsky, The former vice chairman, advisor and investor at GM, whose special purpose vehicle (SPAC) merged with the hydrogen-electric startup Nikola this summer, is in talks with the self-driving truck startup TuSimple. According to four people who are familiar with the business.
The capital would come from Girsky's VectoIQ LLC, a consulting and investment company he runs with managing partner Mary Chan, and would be part of a consortium of investors, according to an unnamed source, who requested anonymity as the deal was still ongoing. The deal could be completed as early as mid-October.
TuSimple and Girsky declined to comment.
It's no secret that TuSimple has been looking for new capital. theinformationsuperhighway reported in June that TuSimple was looking for $ 250 million in fresh capital from investors. The company hired the investment bank Morgan Stanley to raise funds. This is evident from several sources familiar with the effort. Since then, TuSimple, which was already offered by Sina, UPS and the tier 1 supplier Mando Corp. is supported, a partnership with Navistar and most recently the Traton Group was announced.
Girsky last made headlines because of Nikola, where he is now the CEO. Girsky took the chair in September after Nikolas founder Trevor Milton stepped down following a scathing report by short seller Hindenburg Research accusing the company of fraud. VectoIQ Acquisition Corp., the SPAC founded by Girsky in 2018, announced a merger with Nikola in March, and Girsky oversaw the listing last June. According to a source familiar with the deal, he led an introduction between Nikola and his former boss, GM chief executive officer and chairwoman Mary Barra. By mid-September, the automaker had announced a $ 2 billion partnership with Nikola.
Girsky may be Nikolas new chairman and certainly has leadership experience. However, in recent years he has worked as a consultant, investor and matchmaker. Girsky has long been interested in mobility-related companies. His company VectoIQ LLC specializes in advising companies and connecting large companies with startups active in the fields of autonomous vehicle technology, electrification, connectivity, cybersecurity and mobility-as-a-service.
VectoIQ invested in lidar startup Luminar, which recently announced that it will go public through a SPAC merger with Gores Metropoulos Inc., with a post-deal market valuation of $ 3.4 billion. Girsky was also on the board of the autonomous vehicle startup Drive.ai, which Apple took over when the company was shut down.
Girsky's investment in TuSimple differs from its stake in Nikola, which sources say has not yet started production of its Class 8 trucks.
TuSimple was launched in 2015 and has offices in China, San Diego and Tucson, Arizona. The focus is on the autonomous vehicle technology stack that enables Class 8 trucks to operate without a human driver. TuSimple operates a fleet of 40 self-driving trucks in the United States that are used to test and move cargo between Arizona and Texas.
TuSimple announced plans in July to collaborate with Navistar to develop and produce autonomous tractor units by 2024. In September, the Traton Group business of Volkswagen AG announced that it had acquired a minority stake in TuSimple for the development of self-driving trucks as part of an agreement between the two companies. Neither company disclosed the financial terms of the partnership or the minority stake percentage. According to an unknown source familiar with the business, Traton has made a direct capital investment in TuSimple. It is unclear whether this includes benefits in kind.