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Julian Ma, the founder and CEO of Inceptio Technology Co., shared Inceptio’s vision for how autonomous trucking will change the freight industry at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.
Shanghai–based Inceptio is developing autonomous driving technology for heavy-duty trucks. The company expects the number of trucks in China using its technology to quadruple by mid-2024, according to Reuters. Because of this growth, Inceptio is gearing up to begin overseas sales.
Its flagship technology is the Inceptio L3 Autonomous Driving System, a propriety full-stack system for heavy-duty trucks. The company rolled it out in late 2021. Now, Inceptio trucks are operated by customers including Budweiser, Nestlé, JD Logistics, and Deppon Express.
In 2022, China issued a public road-testing permit for driverless autonomous heavy-duty trucks to Inceptio. Under its current business model, Inceptio equips trucks made by DongFeng Automobile Co. with its technology and sells those trucks to clients.
The future of freight could be autonomous
At the forum, Ma explained to Bloomberg correspondent Haslinda Amin why he believes that autonomous trucking will usher in a new business model for transporting freight.
“We are very committed to providing a full driverless experience to our customers, and this will definitely come about as the technology improves and semiconductors become more powerful,” Ma said. “We view the fully autonomous truck as essentially a freight robot, dispatched and managed centrally from the cloud.”
“This has implications not just for the truck itself, but also for the logistics model, “he added. “Ultimately, we envision the emergence of nationwide, super-scale freight robot networks that provide highly efficient and timely delivery at low costs.”
Ma also outlined the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) benefits that Inceptio says its technology offers.
“Developed economies and emerging economies face similar challenges in the trucking industry – a labor shortage driven by challenging working conditions and the heavy emissions created by diesel-guzzling trucks,” Ma said. “Inceptio’s autonomous driving technology addresses both of these issues: Highly automated driving creates a safer and less stressful working environment, reducing collision risk by 75% and drivers’ physical fatigue by 35%, while generating fuel savings of 2% to 10%.
“We are able to deliver this significant ESG impact while reducing overall costs by 5-6%, which creates a highly compelling value proposition for customers ranging from Chinese logistics leaders like JD Logistics to Fortune 500 brands such as Nestlé and Budweiser,” he added.
In addition, Inceptio is actively exploring partnerships with additional heavy-duty truck OEMs, said Ma. The company hopes to expand its business in overseas regions like Japan, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, he said.
Inceptio part of growing market
In 2021, Inceptio brought in $270 million in Series B funding. This brought the company’s total funding to $490 million to date. JD Logistics, Meituan, and PAG led the funding round.
The global market for autonomous trucking could experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.18%, expanding from $14.2 billion in 2021 to $95 billion by 2027, predicted Precision Reports. Similarly optimistic was Modern Report Insights, which forecast a CAGR of 36.92%, from $19.7 billion in 2022 to $13 billion by 2027. However, it has yet to be proven whether any autonomous trucking providers are profitable.
In its forecast, Fortune Business Insights noted that improvements in sensors and software promise to reduce accidents and fatalities, as well as downtime and emissions. It said the market could grow from $30.7 billion in 2022 to $67.73 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 10.8%.
The Bloomberg New Economy Forum is an annual conference focused on challenges confronting the global economy and opportunities created by technological innovation. Ma also participated in a discussion on the future of transportation at the forum that included executives from Trip.com and Hyundai Motor, as well as Indonesia’s minister for tourism and creative economy.