Delphi acquires self-driving startup NuTonomy for $450 million
Both companies have autonomous driving pilots in Singapore
By Andrew J. Hawkins@andyjayhawk
Delphi, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, is acquiring Boston-based self-driving car startup NuTonomy for an upfront purchase price of $400 million as well as $50 million in earn-outs, the companies announced today.
Delphi isn’t as well-known in the self-driving space as its much bigger rivals Uber, Waymo, and Tesla. A GM spinoff now based in the UK, the company has been showing off its autonomous technology for over three years, mostly in Pittsburgh and Singapore. And NuTonomy, which spun out of MIT in 2013, has also been operating autonomous taxis in Singapore since 2016, and recently received permission to test its self-driving vehicles in Boston.
The acquisition is the latest in a series of big-dollar deals in the automated driving sector, as huge automakers and suppliers funnel millions of dollars into tiny startups with the goal of being first to deploy fully self-driving cars. NuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma said today’s deal puts his company and Delphi on the path to winning that race.
“We have, between us, really outstanding technical expertise — on the scientific side, on the algorithmic side,” he said during a conference call with reporters today. “We have now deep and long-standing expertise on the automotive engineering side. And we have conduits, pathways, to selling it to all the various businesses that autonomous driving can impact, through traditional OEM channels, and through mobility services.
Iagnemma added, “So I feel great about the fact that this acquisition puts the combined team in the pole position to be one of the winners in the global automated driving race.”
Glen De Vos, chief technology officer at Delphi, said the acquisition will help speed the company’s efforts to bring a fully self-driving car to market — even if that vehicle isn’t one for personal ownership. “The market for consumer vehicles is going to be slow-moving, and that’s going to take some time for the cars you and I buy, that we drive,” he said. “There’s no question that in commercial sector, that automated mobility on demand, logistics on demand, commercial services, transportation services — this is an area where automated driving has really accelerated.”
As part of the deal, NuTonomy will combine more than 100 employees, including 70 engineers and scientists, to Delphi's more than 100-member automated driving team. After the transaction is completed, Delphi will have self-driving operations in Boston, Pittsburgh, Singapore, Santa Monica, and Silicon Valley; NuTonomy will continue to be based in Boston, where both companies currently operate pilot programs. By combining efforts with NuTonomy in Boston, Singapore, and other pilot cities around the world, Delphi will have 60 autonomous cars on the road across three continents by years end.
Both companies said the acquisition wouldn’t impact preexisting partnerships around self-driving. NuTonomy has deals with Lyft, Grab, and Groupe PSA, which owns European car brands Peugeot SA and Citroën. Delphi is working with Mobileye, the auto-vision company that was recently acquired by Intel, to build a self-driving car by 2019. And NuTonomy isn’t Delphi’s first self-driving acquisition. In 2015, the company bought Ottomatika, an automated driving startup spun out of Carnegie Mellon University.