In a joint announcement, TuSimple and Navistar have announced an end to their nearly two-and-a-half-year partnership intended to co-develop SAE Level 4 autonomous semi-trucks for production by 2024.
The decision to end the development agreement does not preclude the companies from working together in the future, the companies said in the statement.
Both Navistar and TuSimple officials said they remain committed to the development of autonomous trucks.
"Navistar believes autonomous driving technologies will be a key component of a future transportation and logistics system and is committed to the development of a safe and efficient autonomous driving solution," said Navistar Vice President Srinivas Gowda.
Look Back on TuSimple and Navistar’s Autonomous Truck Development Partnership
2020: The Start
At the start of the partnership agreement is July 2020, TuSimple was the first technology company to partner with an OEM to manufacture trucks under a clear timeline.
Later that year, Traton Group followed suit. Traton and TuSimple launched a development program to operate an autonomous hub-to-hub route in Sweden, and said the autonomous systems would be used in Traton brand trucks (MAN, Scania and Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus.)
2021: Reservations Come In
Among the first customers to place reservations for the TuSimple autonomous truck were: Penske Truck Leasing, Schneider and U.S. Xpress.
By May 10, TuSimple had received 6,775 reservations for the new line of SAE Level 4 International LT Series autonomous trucks. The trucks were to be equipped with TuSimple's advanced autonomous driving system and manufactured by Navistar beginning in 2024.
2022: In the Conversation
"When it comes to autonomous technology, the U.S. is clearly the world leader in developing this technology. Scania is working with TuSimple in Europe. And Navistar will work with them here in the U.S. So we will have a common approach, and shared resources based on what is happening in Europe." — Carlbaum, May 2022
When talking to HDT’s Deborah Lockridge in October, TuSimple officials said production had been pushed from 2024 to late 2025 or even 2026.
On Oct. 30, Xiaodi Hou, TuSimple’s then CEO, president and chief technology officer, was fired. The Wall Street Journal reported the company faces federal investigations into whether it improperly financed and transferred technology to a Chinese startup. By November, TuSimple brought back Cheng Lu as CEO.
"I decided to return as TuSimple's CEO to address the challenges ahead and to set us on a path to long term stability,” Lu said in the Dec. 5 joint statement. “We have proven our technology works, and I'm committed to addressing the concerns of stakeholders. I firmly believe in this company and its ability to improve the safety and efficiency of the trucking industry through world-class autonomous driving technology.”
Also in October, Göran Nyberg, executive vice president, commercial operations, hinted that there might be a change when asked about the TuSimple project in an interview with HDT at the American Trucking Associations' Management Conference and Exhibition.
“We have had a good partnership with TuSimple, but it’s not an exclusive, and we are working on autonomous solutions in the group. I would say overall we are quite well prepared in the journey toward autonomous vehicles. We are running extensive testing in Europe as well as in America. That’s the benefit of scale.” — Nyberg, November 2022.
See photos of the autonomous trucks on display at ATA's MC&E.