Aurora could interest Apple or Microsoft

New tech companies specializing in self-driving vehicles used to be used to easy fundraising and high valuations when they go public, but the development cycle for self-driving cars is stretching and market conditions are much more difficult and uncertain for two years. To cope with this unfavorable context, Chris Urmsonexecutive director of Aurora Innovation, is looking for a robust buyer, citing groups like Apple and Microsoft, without giving further details on the progress of possible negotiations.

Aurora’s stock plummets 80% in a year

Chris Urmson, who worked on the autonomous car project of Alphabet (Google) before creating Aurora, is also studying a plan to reduce costs and the possibility of a spin-off from his group. Staff reductions are also being considered. Aurora Innovation’s title, which is valued at 2.4 Billions of Euro’s, recovered 15% in the wake of this announcement, but this is not significant when you consider that the action has lost 80% in one year. Aurora notably disappointed the marketplaces by postponing by one year, first half of 2024 instead of 2023, its autonomous driving system for trucks.

Microsoft has already positioned itself on the autonomous car with Cruise

The track of a takeover by Microsoft may surprise because the group founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen already has a stake in Cruise, an autonomous driving specialist with General Motors as a shareholder benchmark and which claims a valuation of some 30 billion euros. Cruise has just been forced to call back 80 robot taxisbased on a 100% electric Chevrolet Bolt, being tested in the United States because it is responsible for an accident that occurred in June 2022. Cruise executives point out, however, that it was the non-autonomous car that was driving too fast and made a sudden change of direction.

Still the big blur around the Apple Car

The Apple trail is also difficult to pin down, because a great opacity surrounds the projects of Apple Car, the famous Titan project of the group. According to several observers, Apple intends to put an autonomous and 100% electric vehicle on the road in 2025, but for others, the group is developing technological bricks, including an autonomous driving module, to offer them to car manufacturers. The group’s news is more focused on the announcements of September 7, 2022 and the launch of the iPhone 14.

Aurora Innovation may nevertheless interest buyers because the company brings together a lot of gray matter and has a portfolio ofagreements with major groups (Hyundai Kia, Volvo, Toyota, Uber, FedEx, etc.). In addition, its current fragility made public opens a wide space for negotiations on the amount of a possible transaction.

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(with Bloomberg and Reuters)

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