TuSimple, which is partly owned by UPS, is making self-driving trucks, a technology that could be one of the innovations to help reduce long-term inflation in the transportation sector.
Self-driving truck launch TuSimple has fired its CEO Xiaoji Hou after an internal investigation uncovered improper dealings and a possible technology transfer to a Chinese firm led by TuSimple’s now-departed co-founder, the company said Monday.
The San Diego-based startup’s chief operating officer, Ersin Hummer, will serve as CEO and president while TuSimple’s board of directors searches for a permanent successor. Howe was also the company’s chief technology officer.
TuSimple shares fell more than 40% in early trading following the news.
TuSimple said in a regulatory filing on Monday that, based on a board investigation, it believes some of its employees in 2021 spent paid hours working for Hydron, a Chinese startup developing autonomous hydrogen-powered trucks. Those employees shared confidential information with Hydron before signing a nondisclosure agreement, according to TuSimple.
The board’s investigation began in July and is ongoing, the company said.
The company’s relationship with Hydron is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the report The Wall Street Journal on Monday. According to the report, investigators are looking into whether TuSimple management failed to disclose information about its transactions with Hydron and whether the transactions harmed TuSimple investors.
TuSimple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the federal investigative report.
Hydron was founded in 2021 by Mo Chen, co-founder of TuSimple, who previously served as executive chairman. Hydron initially announced plans to build electric trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells in North America, but so far its operations have been primarily in China.