A self driving startup with Ford and VW backing, Argo, is considering a public offering as soon as this year, according to a media report.
Bloomberg sources said Argo co-founder Bryan Salesky had told employees the company was looking to boost its funding as it came closer to commercialising its technology.
The report noted Ford, which invested US$1bn in Argo in 2017, plans to roll out robo-taxis and driverless delivery pods in 2022.
Bloomberg said Argo had a market value of more than $7bn when Volkswagen completed its $2.6bn investment in the company last July. VW plans to put self-driving vehicles on the road later this decade.
Bloomberg said major AV players were expected to consider public offerings to meet growing financing needs.
Chinese autonomous driving startup Plus subsequently announced it had raised US$220m in its latest fundraising round led by FountainVest Partners and ClearVue Partners. The company, which describes itself as a leading provider of self-driving technology for trucks, had already raised US$200m in a previous fundraising round earlier this year.
Bloomberg said the company was in talks with special purpose acquisition companies for a merger, a route several electric vehicle firms have used to go public.
Bloomberg’s sources said Argo timing was right because it is in the advanced stages of developing its technology, with tests running in six cities, a new lidar guidance system and a clear path to commercialisation through partnerships with two of the world’s largest automakers.
The startup was still working out specifics with its automotive partners and it was not clear if it would will do a traditional IPO or merge with a SPAC, the Bloomberg sources said. Plans also could slip into next year.
“We have a solid financial runway due to investments from our partners Ford and Volkswagen but we have always said that we’re open to additional partnerships or investment opportunities to further accelerate our growth,” Argo said in a statement cited by Bloomberg.