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Lidar Maker Luminar Readies $2.9 Billion IPO

Plan would give startup a $3.4 billion market cap
#Volvo #Audi #Toyota

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Luminar Technologies, the 8-year-old supplier of lidar sensors and software for autonomous vehicles, is launching an initial public offering through a reverse merger.

The imminent deal will combine Luminar with Gores Metropoulos, a so-called “blank check” firm set up specifically to merge with other businesses and enable them to conduct IPOs faster and more cheaply.

The merger will give Luminar a market cap of about $3.4 billion.

Same Name, More Funds

The resulting entity will retain the Luminar name, executive leadership, the rest of its 350-member staff and its current headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

The deal also will provide Luminar with an immediate infusion of $400 million in cash from Gores Metropoulos and another $170 million in financing from a group of investors that includes the Volvo Cars Tech Fund.

Luminar has been working with a dozen carmakers and suppliers, including Audi, Toyota and Volvo, on lidar-based autonomous-vehicle testing. Volvo made a “significant” investment in the supplier two years ago.

The developer claims its “Iris” lidars offer 50 times the resolution and 10 times the range of standard systems, thanks to their more efficient and shorter-wavelength indium gallium arsenide receivers.

Next Stop: Commercial Production

Volvo plans to begin integrating Luminar devices into its global vehicle platform in 2022 to support an array of advanced driving assistance systems. This year, Luminar has been expanding its management team to support the program.

The Volvo deal marks the industry’s first high-volume program for mass-produced lidar devices, according to Luminar.

Luminar currently operates a production facility in Orlando, Fla., with annual capacity to make 20,000 devices. The company said in 2018 it had already slashed the production cost of its lidars more than 80% to well under $1,000.

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