Arrival, the owner of the autonomous racing car project Roborace, has written off the value of the company in its latest accounts, after judging it would never make money.
UK electric vehicle start-up Arrival took a $20.7 million (£16.7m) impairment charge in 2021 on its ownership of Roborace as well as on charging stations and other leases “that are no longer expected to generate future cash flows”, the company said in a filing published on April 27. Impairment in accounting usually means a permanent reduction in value.
The Roborace automonous racecar was revealed by Arrival CEO Denis Sverdlov at the 2017 Mobile World Congress along with plans to build 20 to create a race series that would be held ahead of Formula E events on the same circuits.
Following a head-to-head display with two cars at the 2018 German e-Prix in Berlin, Roborace ran a low-key ‘Season Beta’ in 2020 with seven so-called DevBot cars that could be run autonomously or with a driver. A video of a car making a right turn to crash into wall on the Thuxton racetrack went viral, but at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed the DevBot test car set the first ever autonomous timed run up the hill, with a time of 1:06.96.
In response, Arrrival told us: "As we focus on achieving the start of production in Q3 this year, we have made the decision to explore various strategic alternatives with regards to Roborace's future and are in active discussions with potential partners.
"Roborace has proven to be an important tool for R&D, enabling us to develop our technology and accelerate our learnings by pushing our ADAS capabilities to the limits in closed environments. As a result, Arrival has been able to implement some of these technologies across all of our vehicle programs."
Roborace was original established by Sverdlov’s Kinetik Group but Arrival bought the company in 2020 for just $10,000, Arrival said in its April filing. Roborace has been renamed Arrival R, the filing said. Arrival R is a company specialising in “ready-made interactive leisure and entertainment software development” according to its listing on the Government’s Companies House information website, suggesting Roborace could continue to exist in a more virtual form.
Arrival is currently suffering cash squeeze that will see it run out of money next year if it doesn’t find alternative sources of funding, Berenberg, a bank, warned this week.
Developers who worked on Roborace are now focused on autonomous projects within Arrival. The biggest self-driving projects at the moment within the company are the autonomous ‘WeMo’ robots that will carry parts and finished modules around the company’s first microfactory in Bicester, near Oxford, when production of the flagship electric van starts in the third quarter this year.