Luminar lays off 20% of its staff amid restructuring

Lidar provider Luminar Technologies Inc. laid off 20 percent of its staff Friday amid a restructuring.

According to the company, approximately 140 employees were laid off. Approximately 560 employees remain to help Luminar move toward an “asset-light” business model, the company said.

Luminar is now looking to outsource much of the industrialization process to its automotive industry partners. It counts Volvo Cars and Mercedes-Benz as customers, along with Chinese automaker SAIC, technology provider Mobileye and other global automakers and transportation companies.

The company said the changes will reduce overall costs and generate “strong profitability in unit economics.” Luminar expects to save more than $80 million with those measures in the immediate future and more than $400 million over five years.

The Orlando company hopes to reverse the decline in its stock price, which has fallen from a 52-week high of $8.32 per share last July to a Friday close of $1.68 per share.

“Today we stand at the crossroads of two realities: the core of our business has never been stronger in technology, products, industrialization and commercialization,” CEO Austin Russell wrote in a blog post describing the changes. “However, at the same time, the capital markets' perception of our company has never been more challenging.”

Luminar reached the start of global production of the Volvo EX90 last month. Delays in that program contributed to the company's problems.

Lidar is a sensor that can help driver assistance functions and fully autonomous systems understand the road environment and detect obstacles in the vehicle's path.

Just days before Friday's announcement, Luminar and other sensor companies received a regulatory tailwind from the federal government.

NHTSA released a new safety standard requiring automated braking systems to detect and avoid pedestrians by September 2029.

Experts believe it will be necessary for automakers that use camera-only systems to incorporate other types of sensors such as radar and lidar.

Luminar hailed the rule as a “milestone for automotive safety and a huge tailwind for long-range lidar technology.”

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