TuSimple scores another OEM partner, in Europe

Self-driving trucking technology company TuSimple is teaming up with the TRATON Group (ETR: 8TRA) to develop autonomous vehicles in Europe.

The collaboration, announced Wednesday, will work initially to operate a hub-to-hub route between the Swedish cities Södertälje and Jönköping using Scania trucks, a TRATON brand, according to a press statement

TRATON, the truck holding company of German automaker Volkswagen AG, also has taken a minority stake in TuSimple.

The agreement builds on an existing partnership sealed earlier this summer between TuSimple and Navistar (NYSE: NAV), the Illinois truck and bus company partly owned by TRATON. TRATON is in talks to buy the rest of Navistar.

Similar to the Navistar partnership, the latest collaboration will see TuSimple and TRATON working to develop Level 4 autonomous systems. Level 4 trucks don’t require a human driver under most conditions.

TRATON aims to test driverless truck fleets on roads throughout Sweden, Germany and other countries, according to the statement.

“Our partnership with TRATON GROUP accelerates the introduction of autonomous truck technology to new international markets, and we look forward to our global partnership,” said Cheng Lu, TuSimple president, in the release.

The partnership marks TuSimple’s European debut.

In the past six months a growing number of autonomous vehicle companies have formed alliances with manufacturers, retailers and logistics companies, as the technology matures and industry seeks to move closer to commercialization. 

This summer, TuSimple announced new partnerships with transportation providers U.S. Xpress and Penske Truck Leasing, and Berkshire Hathaway-owned grocery and food-service distributor McLane. 

Considered a leader in the self-driving truck space, TuSimple has said repeatedly that it will put a fully autonomous truck on the road in 2021.

In Sweden, TuSimple and TRATON will join Einride, a Swedish startup that has developed a remote-operated trucking technology and is running commercial freight for several partners. 

The company opened an office in the U.S. this year, and CEO Robert Falck told FreightWaves last spring that Einride would be hiring its first remote drivers in the third quarter of 2020. 

Einride did not immediately respond to FreightWaves’ request for confirmation of the new hires.