Solo said its first test vehicle, a battery-electric Class 8 truck, will begin testing in 2022. - Photo: Solo

Solo said its first test vehicle, a battery-electric Class 8 truck, will begin testing in 2022.

Photo: Solo

Solo Advanced Vehicle Technologies, a vehicle hardware company, announced $7 million in seed funding to build what it said will be the first ground-up heavy truck platform to be compatible with any autonomous driving software — and it's electric, too.

This financing will be used to expand Solo’s engineering team as the company increases at its new headquarters in Fremont, California. The team will finalize the design and build Solo’s first test vehicle, a battery-electric Class 8 truck, which will begin testing in 2022, according to the company. The test vehicle will inform the design and engineering of Solo’s alpha truck, the SD1 Heavy.

Funding was led by Trucks VC, with participation from Maniv Mobility and Wireframe Ventures.

“At Solo, we believe that modern technology requires a modern platform, yet the autonomous trucks already being deployed today are forced to combine advanced autonomous software with antiquated vehicles,” said Graham Doorley, founder and CEO of Solo Advanced Vehicle Technologies. “By delivering a purpose-built heavy truck platform that is software agnostic, we will materially change the future of the freight transportation sector and enable the growth and efficiency that the global supply chain demands. Our team has decades of experience understanding the opportunities for autonomous trucking and has seen first-hand the limitations of the existing platforms. We are uniquely primed to tackle this market, and, with the early support of committed investors, we’re excited to build the future of freight.”

Solo’s team gained experience on the Tesla Model S, Model 3, and Tesla Semi teams, as well as while serving as leaders on the autonomous truck project within Waymo. Solo’s alpha truck (the SD1 Heavy) offers active aerodynamics coupled with a proprietary, battery-electric powertrain. With a fully redundant architecture designed for an autonomous Class 8 truck, the SD1 Heavy will be compatible with any autonomous software, according to the company.

“Logistics is often where transportation innovation begins," said Jeffrey Schox, general partner, Trucks VC. We’ve seen this time and again in our investing history and yet, autonomous cars have been a larger focus for the on-road market in the last 10 years.

“When I was a young engineer working on GM's first electric vehicle, I don't think I could have imagined a world of zero-emission, automated trucks," Schox added. "Solo has the opportunity this decade to transform how we move goods cleaner and more safely. The investor syndicate that Graham and his team have brought together at this seed stage will be essential for Solo’s future financial strategy, IP portfolio, and technical success."

Michael Granoff, managing partner, Maniv Mobility, said, "A global supply chain crisis has underscored the need for transformation in the trucking industry. Solo is the first serious effort to look beyond the horizon to a moment, not far off, when the most efficient, cleanest truck platform that can safely ‘drive,’ changes the course of a hundred-year-old industry.”

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