Berkshire Hathaway-backed BYD Co., Ltd. has partnered with leading autonomous vehicle company Nuro to begin producing the company’s third-generation electric autonomous delivery vehicle.
The partnership is expected to scale Nuro’s more affordable, eco-friendly, and convenient services to millions of people across the country.
“BYD will leverage the manufacturing capacity of our Lancaster, California plant by finishing assembly of globally sourced hardware components to support Nuro and bring more jobs to the community,” said Stella Li, Executive Vice President of BYD Co. Ltd. and President of BYD North America, “Together we will build this autonomous delivery vehicle, with the mutual goal of creating a safer environment on streets across the United States.”
The announcement follows Nuro’s $600 million Series D funding round which closed in Q4 2021 and was led by Tiger Global Management with participation from other investors.
Combining both partners’ advanced technology, Nuro’s third-generation autonomous delivery vehicle will feature greater payload and new safety technologies. With twice the cargo volume of Nuro’s current R2 model, the automotive production grade vehicle will also feature modular inserts to customize storage and new temperature-controlled compartments to keep goods warm or cool. Safety enhancements include an external airbag to further improve safety for pedestrians outside the vehicle, as well as a multi-modal sensing suite, including cameras, radars, lidar, and thermal cameras, creating a redundant 360-degree view.
Nuro was founded in 2016 by Jiajun Zhu and Dave Ferguson, former principal engineers of Google’s self-driving car team. Specializing in developing zero-occupant vehicles designed specifically for transporting goods and not passengers, Nuro has launched two generations of autonomous vehicles, introduced delivery service with industry leaders including Domino’s, Kroger, and 7-Eleven, and announced a multi-year partnership with FedEx.
“BYD is one of the largest OEM networks of electric vehicles in the world, and we are thrilled to partner with them to help us move one step closer to scaled commercial operations,” said Jiajun Zhu, Nuro co-founder and CEO. “We look forward to transforming the hardware components of BYD’s globally sourced electric vehicle platform into innovative autonomous vehicles capable of operating on public roads at our new facility here in America. Through our partnership with BYD, we plan to produce autonomous vehicles at scale that can improve road safety, air quality, and overall access to goods.”
As a leader in the NEV industry, BYD has innovated rich technologies in the field of electrification. In this project, BYD is jointly working with Nuro on vehicle development, and is responsible for vehicle manufacturing and initial vehicle testing, and provides hardware like the Blade Battery, electric motors, electronic controls, and displays for human-machine interaction. Nuro integrates technologies such as autonomous driving, control modules and sensors. BYD will finish assembly of the hardware platform at its Lancaster plant in the United States using globally sourced components. Nuro will then complete the vehicle manufacturing process by installing and testing the autonomy systems that will make the platform capable of operation at the company’s new facilities in southern Nevada.
BYD and Berkshire Hathaway
In 2008, Berkshire Hathaway bet on BYD’s potential, purchasing 225 million shares for $232 million. It’s an investment that has paid off handsomely. Berkshire’s original investment of $232 million had grown in value to $5.897 billion as of December 31, 2020.
© 2022 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway and BYD, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell a stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.