Los Angeles-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced this week that it would work with China to bring the high-tech experimental transportation service to that country.
Hyperloop technology is still a concept that’s under development, with no operational hyperloop systems in place yet.
This is HTT’s third commercial agreement, according to the company, after Abu Dhabi and Ukraine signed on earlier in 2018.
Under China’s first hyperloop deal, HTT would bring the technology to Tongren, a city in China’s southern Guizhou province.
The project would be broken up into two phases. The first would be an approximately 6-mile route that HTT is estimating would cost about $300 million. Officials are still discussing a specific location, with the airport as a possible point in a potential route. The second phase would be an expansion; HTT officials didn’t specify its length or cost.
Creating a hyperloop system for Tongren would give HTT the opportunity to develop its technology for a more mountainous area than it is tackling in Abu Dhabi or Ukraine.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re doing this project,” HTT Chief Executive Dirk Ahlborn said. “It will help us get a better grip on building a better system in a more challenging terrain. It’s something new for us.”
Ahlborn wouldn’t comment on a specific timeline for the project, but he said the company is estimating construction would take two to three years for the first phase.
HTT said it would provide the technology and engineering expertise and that Tongren would construct the hyperloop and handle certifications. Ahlborn said the U.S.-China trade war has not affected the deal.
The deal is a public-private partnership, with the state paying half the costs and private Chinese investors much of the rest, the company said.
HTT wasn’t the only Los Angeles hyperloop company to announce a China deal this week.
Genertec America Inc., a subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned entity, pledged $1 billion for a future hyperloop project from Los Angeles start-up Arrivo.
That funding could be used to finance a project anywhere in the world, Arrivo executives said, and the $1 billion could help fund as many as three legs of a commercial, citywide hyperloop system of 6 to 9 miles per section.
Elon Musk — the head of SpaceX, Tesla and Boring Co. — popularized the hyperloop concept, releasing a white paper on the technology in 2013. Since then, multiple companies have begun developing the technology, including HTT, Arrivo and fellow Los Angeles start-up Hyperloop One, which began a partnership with Richard Branson and Virgin Group in 2017.
SpaceX has been holding competitions for college teams to build hyperloop prototypes and test them at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne to see which pod can go fastest. The company — whose full name is Space Exploration Technologies Inc. — is hosting its third competition Sunday.
Bloomberg was used in compiling this report