Self-driving sensor startup Innoviz rallies in Wall Street debut


Shares of the self-driving car sensor startup Innoviz Technologies (INVZ) rallied 10.6% Tuesday to close at $10.79 a share in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq. The stock was up over 10% in afternoon trading Wednesday.

The Tel Aviv, Israel-based company became public after completing a merger with the publicly listed blank-check firm Collective Growth Corporation which raised $371 million.

Founded in 2016, Innoviz’s lidar sensor gives self-driving vehicles a three-dimensional view of the road. The company has a partnership with BMW to sell the automaker its first generation of sensors, which cost around $1,000.

CEO and co-founder Omer Keilaf told Yahoo Finance Live that Innoviz is working on a second generation sensor that he says will “disrupt” the industry mainly because of its price — less than $500.

“Innoviz is actually ahead of the pack,” Keilaf said. “Our [sensor] can already fit in the car. It’s a fraction of the size of the available solutions on the market, at a significantly lower cost.”

Keilaf believes lidar sensors will become smaller and cheaper over time, ultimately costing less than $100.

Omer Keilaf, CEO of Israeli firm, Innoviz Technologies, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Smart Mobility Summit in Tel Aviv, Israel October 30, 2018. Picture taken October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Nir Elias

In Q2, Innoviz ramped up production at its Michigan plant to meet what Keilaf described as “booming demand” from the auto industry for lidar technology.

Innoviz projects its revenue will grow from about $9 million this year to about $237 million in 2024, when it is also forecasting its first adjusted profit.

Innoviz is the fifth lidar sensor maker to go public recently via a SPAC. Velodyne Lidar (VLDR), Luminar Technologies (LAZR), Aeva Technologies (AEVA) and Ouster (OUST) have all used the SPAC route to go public within the past year. Rival AEye plans to become public via a merger with CF Acquisition III Corp within weeks.

Tesla’s (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk has been a vocal critic of lidar calling it a “fool’s errand,” and that anyone relying on the technology is “doomed.” According to an application with the FCC, Tesla has filed to use a new type of “millimeter-wave radar sensor.” All of Tesla’s vehicles currently have a forward-facing radar hidden at the front of the car.

“He made the right decision five years ago, there was no lidar available and he had to bring a product to the market,” said Keilaf. “The only way for Tesla to really reach full self-driving is with a lidar, and I’m sure [Musk] will make that step eventually.”

Alexis Christoforous is an anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.