China's CRRC Said in Hyperloop Talks as Musk Vision Moves Closer

  • CRRC, Hyperloop said to discuss collaboration opportunities
  • Hyperloop Technologies one of several developing Musk concept

CRRC Corp., China’s biggest maker of railway equipment, is in talks for a potential investment in Hyperloop Technologies Inc., one of the startups trying to develop Elon Musk’s idea for a high-speed transportation system, according to people familiar with the matter.

The companies are discussing opportunities including collaboration and investment, the people said, asking not to be named because the details are private. The talks are in an an initial stage and no decisions have been made, the people said.

Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla Motors Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., in 2013 outlined his vision for a transit system that could connect San Francisco and Los Angeles. Using low-pressure metal tubes with aluminum capsules, or pods, the concept would be able to support commuting speeds of more than 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) per hour.

CRRC, formed last year from the merger of two Chinese state-owned trainmakers, plans to double overseas sales in five years as it targets major orders.

Funding Round

Hyperloop Technologies was formed in 2014 by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar and Brogan BamBrogan, an early engineer at SpaceX. It hired former Cisco Systems Inc. co-president Rob Lloyd as chief executive officer in September.

Lloyd may travel to China to meet with CRRC within months, one of the people said.

“We are speaking with potential customers and partners around the world but do not comment on any specific customer meetings,” Lloyd said in an e-mailed statement.

A Beijing-based spokesman for CRRC said he had no knowledge of the matter. 

Hyperloop has raised $36 million of financing and is completing a series B funding round of $70 million. Lloyd said. Original investors include Sherpa Ventures, Formation B Ventures and Zhen Fund.

The company has also secured land in North Las Vegas to test its propulsion system with completion expected by the end of the year.

While Musk isn’t affiliated with any companies developing the Hyperloop, SpaceX is hosting a competition this weekend to design and build the best transport pod.

“While we are not developing a commercial Hyperloop ourselves, we are interested in helping to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype,” SpaceX said on its website.