Luminar lidar production begins ahead of schedule

Luminar lidar production begins ahead of schedule

Luminar showcased the first passenger vehicle, a Toyota RAV4, fully integrated with the company’s Iris lidar, which is on-track for series production with its partners starting in late 2022.

Luminar

Automotive sensor company Luminar said it has begun production of its Iris lidar units for an automaker client, a major milestone that it had previously expected to reach around year-end.

Luminar’s lidar units are part of an advanced driver-assist system on the Rising Auto R7, a new electric SUV from the largest Chinese automaker, SAIC Motor. The start of production follows months of testing, in which prototype R7s using the new system covered over 400,000 kilometers on roads across China, Luminar said.

“After 10 years of innovating, prototyping, developing, industrializing, all this stuff, we’ve finally hit the big inflection point,” CEO Austin Russell told CNBC in an interview on Wednesday. “Autonomous technology has for the first time evolved from R&D into consumer production vehicles.”

The announcement comes alongside Luminar’s third-quarter results, in which the company reported an adjusted loss of 18 cents per share on revenue of $12.8 million. A year ago, Luminar reported a loss of 10 cents per share and revenue of $8 million for the third quarter of 2021.

Luminar also confirmed its previous guidance: It still expects to generate $40 million to $45 million in revenue for the full year. Luminar had $553 million in cash on hand as of the end of the third quarter, down from $605 million in cash as of June 30.

Luminar previously announced deals to supply other automakers including Volvo Cars and Polestar, but it hadn’t previously revealed plans to begin production of the Iris units earlier than 2023. Luminar’s lidar will be standard equipment on Volvo’s upcoming electric flagship SUV, the EX90, set to be revealed next week.

The upcoming electric Polestar 3 SUV will also feature Luminar’s lidar units in an optional driver-assist package that will be available next year, Polestar confirmed last month.

The lidar units are being made in a factory in Mexico owned by Canadian electronics manufacturer Celestica. Celestica and Luminar are together building a new dedicated factory, also in Mexico, that will be able to manufacture 250,000 Iris units per year. That factory is on track to begin production in mid-2023, Russell said.

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