Embark Trucks and Locomation, both of which develop self-driving semitrailers to haul freight over long distances, have recently discussed going public, including by merging with a shell company known as a special purpose acquisition vehicle, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. The talks follow the successful public offering of prominent rival TuSimple and plans by Plus and Aurora Innovation for their own public debuts.
To drum up interest in a market that has abruptly cooled to many SPAC deals, Embark and Locomation are likely to position themselves as burning less cash than their half-dozen bigger rivals, according to people with direct knowledge of the private discussions. Developers of driverless vehicles have collectively burned through at least $24 billion of cash since 2015 with almost no revenue to show for it, according to an analysis by The Information. The vast majority of that was spent on developing self-driving passenger cars rather than on trucks.