Autonomous vehicle technology company Aurora Innovation released its third-quarter earnings report after the bell on Wednesday. The company ended the quarter with approximately $1.2 billion in cash and short-term investments, which Aurora says will be enough to reach commercial launch in mid-2024.
These claims came just days after former competitor Argo AI went out of business and Mobileye went public with the third most successful IPO of the year. These two moves are a sign that automakers who were once willing to invest billions in the development of audio-visual technology without short-term profit gains are now turning their attention and resources to short-term profit centers like systems. advanced driver assistance systems in passenger-owned vehicles. . So the question becomes, can Aurora hang on?
CFO Richard Tame said on the investor call that Aurora will need to raise more funds, but the company didn’t tell TechCrunch whether that would happen before or after the 2024 launch. (However, in a memo leaked in September, CEO Chris Urmson wrote to Aurora’s board that it was helpful to find a “pathway to raise $300 million next year to add about six months to our track”.) Given the current economic situation and Aurora’s cash burn history, the company may be able to get through 2024 with the funds it currently has, but only narrowly – and only if it keeps costs in line.
During the third quarter, Aurora’s operating loss totaled $200 million, up from $128 million in the same quarter last year, but down from to losses of nearly $1.2 billion from the second quarter of 2022. If the startup was able to sustain a net loss of $200 million from the fourth quarter through the first quarter of 2024, it wouldn’t have need to raise more cash before 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. Additionally, Aurora should somehow avoid being hit by inflation and supply chain constraints. The result ? Aurora will need to find efficiencies at all levels.
The leaked memo also outlined a range of cost-cutting and cash-generating options for Aurora’s board, including a hiring freeze, potential layoffs, asset divestiture, privatization and even selling to leading tech companies. Aurora didn’t mention any of these potential realities during its earnings call, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t on the table.
The street responded favorably to Aurora’s attempts to appease investors. The company’s stock is up 5.85% after the market close.
Aurora has prioritized bringing self-driving freight to market through a series of pilot partnerships with FedEx, Paccar, Schneider, Werner and Xpress. But the company is also working with Toyota to eventually launch a subscription service for the ride-sharing market. Earlier this year, the company unveiled its test fleet of Toyota Siennas that were custom-built for robotaxi operations. In the third quarter, Aurora recognized approximately $3 million in collaboration revenue from Toyota.