Aurora says it has enough cash to commercialize self-driving trucks by 2024 • TechCrunch

Autonomous vehicle technology company Aurora Innovation released its third-quarter earnings report after the bell on Wednesday. The company ended the quarter with about $1.2 billion in cash and short-term investments, which Aurora says will be enough to reach commercial launch in mid-2024.

These statements came just days after former competitor Argo AI shut down and Mobileye went public in the third most successful IPO of the year. Both moves are a sign that automakers once willing to invest billions in developing AV technology without near-term profit gains are now shifting their attention and resources back to short-term profit centers like advanced driver assistance systems in passenger vehicles. So the question becomes, can Aurora keep up?

CFO Richard Tame said during the investor call that Aurora will need to raise more capital, but the company wouldn’t specify to TechCrunch whether that would happen before or after the 2024 launch. (However, in a leaked memo (In September, CEO Chris Urmson wrote to Aurora’s board that it was helpful to find a way to raise $300 million next year to add about six months to our runway.) Given the current financial situation and history of burning of Aurora’s cash, the company may be able to make it to 2024 with the funds it has right now, but only — and only if it keeps costs the same.

During the third quarter, Aurora’s loss from operations came in at $200 million, higher than the $128 million reported in the same quarter last year, but lower than the nearly $1.2 billion in losses from the second quarter of 2022. If the startup was able to maintain a net loss of $200 million from the fourth quarter to the first quarter of 2024, it will not need to raise more cash before the commercial launch. But as a pre-revenue startup working on cutting-edge technology, Aurora will incur huge R&D costs to scale and bring its product to market. In addition, Aurora should somehow avoid being affected by inflation and supply chain constraints. The result; Aurora will need to find efficiencies across the board.

The leaked memo also outlined a number of cost-cutting and cash-generating options for Aurora’s board, including a hiring freeze, possible layoffs, divesting assets, going private and even selling itself to high-profile tech companies. Aurora didn’t mention any of these potential realities during its earnings call, but that doesn’t mean they’re off the table.

The Street responded positively to Aurora’s efforts to reassure investors. The company’s stock is up 5.85% after market close.

Aurora has prioritized the commercialization of autonomous cargo through a series of pilot partnerships with FedEx, Paccar, Schneider, Werner and Xpress. However, the company is also working with Toyota to eventually launch a subscription service for the ride-hailing market. Earlier this year, the company unveiled its test fleet of Toyota Siennas that were custom-built for robot functions. In the third quarter, Aurora recognized approximately $3 million in partnership revenue from Toyota.

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