A huge loss of NT$46 billion in three years! U.S. self-driving technology unicorn Motional lays off employees for second time this year and suspends commercial operations

Motional, a self-driving unicorn jointly established by South Korea\’s Hyundai Motor and Tier 1 giant Aptiv, recently announced that it will cease commercial operations and lay off about 550 people, accounting for 40% of its total employees. This is the second layoff this year and affects many departments. Even the company\’s top executives were forced to resign.

Motional, a self-driving unicorn jointly established by South Korea\’s Hyundai Motor and Tier 1 giant Aptiv, recently announced that it would cease commercial operations and lay off about 550 people, accounting for 40% of its total employees. This is the second layoff this year and has affected many departments, including the company\’s senior executives. Forced to resign.
Motional was valued at US$4 billion when it debuted, and has directly started the development and commercialization of self-driving cars that meet L4 self-driving standards. It hopes to first launch self-driving systems and related supporting technologies to self-driving taxi operators in 2022 and then launch them to the public in 2027. Driverless cars.
Even with two super giants as its backers, Motional cannot escape the three curses faced by all self-driving companies: difficulty in revenue, difficulty in large-scale application, and rapid money burning.
In 2022, Argo AI, an L4 self-driving startup that had received investment from Fox and Ford, announced its bankruptcy and laid off about 2,000 people. Embark, a star self-driving truck company, closed down last year. Locomation, which also made self-driving trucks, also closed due to a break in the capital chain and raised US$220 million. Self-driving company Ghost Autonomy also folded last month.
There are countless examples of layoffs and downsizing. Cruise, owned by General Motors, lost $3.48 billion last year and faced massive layoffs. TuSimple, a star self-driving truck company, delisted and Waymo, owned by Google, laid off employees many times.
Since its establishment in March 2020, Motional has suffered huge losses in consecutive years and even forced Aptiv to announce a divestment or even sell its shares some time ago.
According to Hyundai’s financial report, Motional’s losses totaled 2 trillion won (approximately NT$46 billion) in the past three years.
As Aptiv ceased to invest in Hyundai, it invested US$488 million to increase its capital in Motional and paid an additional US$456 million to acquire Aptiv\’s 11% stake in Motional.
After the investment is completed, Hyundai\’s shareholding in Motional will reach 66.8%. It is reported that Aptiv\’s shareholding will eventually be reduced to 15%.
Hyundai\’s latest investment in Motional values ​​the company at $4 billion, unchanged from its 2020 valuation.
Hyundai hopes to control Motional and take the core self-driving technology into its own hands. Currently, Motional\’s self-driving taxi business in partnership with Lyft and Uber has been suspended, but Motional said it will resume commercial operations in the future once the operating cost of each vehicle becomes more cost-effective.
In the future, the main focus will be on the research and development of self-driving technology.
A research report by Dasin Securities, a well-known Korean securities firm, believes that the progress of autonomous driving technology will slow down significantly after 2020. If the current autonomous driving technology is 90% complete, achieving the remaining 10% may require exponentially increased efforts and costs.

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