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Breakingviews - Capital Calls - Autonomous trucks hit the IPO road

A partially self driving Uber semi truck at the Mcity autonomous vehicle testing facility in Ann Arbor Michigan, U.S., September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joseph White

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - TOO SIMPLE. Lately, every startup with an eye on the automotive future seems to have sold itself to a blank-check company. TuSimple, an autonomous trucking startup, is on a different road: It filed on Wednesday to raise around $1 billion in an old-school initial public offering. The indicative price range would value the company, with almost no revenue, at a whopping $8 billion.

Nikola, an electric-truck wannabe, boasts a valuation of $5 billion. It went public via a special-purpose acquisition company, and at one point last year it was worth five times as much. The listing process for TuSimple could be a more rigorous test. Unlike Nikola, TuSimple has to run the gauntlet of an investor roadshow.

SPACs can publicly lay out alluring projections for early-stage companies, something a traditional IPO process doesn’t allow. Electric-car upstart Lucid Motors, set to merge with another SPAC, springs to mind. Maybe TuSimple wants to give itself a sterner test. Or maybe its focus on autonomous driving for fossil-fuel powered trucks, rather than trendy electric ones, forced it in that direction. (By Lauren Silva Laughlin)

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