Pony.ai, an autonomous driving company, has raised $400 million from Toyota Motor Corporation to deepen and expand the two companies’ collaboration in mobility services.
The investment comes as an extension of a business partnership that was formed between Pony.ai and Toyota in 2019. Building upon the foundation established last year, both companies will further advance their joint efforts in autonomous driving technology development and mobility service deployment. The new funding totals $462 million and puts Pony.ai’s valuation at just over $3B.
Strengthened ties will enable deeper integration of Pony.ai's autonomous driving system with Toyota's vehicle platforms and technologies. In August 2019, Pony.ai and Toyota initiated joint autonomous driving pilots in China. This year’s strategic investment will expand the partnership’s scope of collaboration. In addition to co-developing autonomous driving technology, Pony.ai and Toyota will look beyond the vehicle itself to explore further possibilities on mobility services.
Established in December 2016, Pony.ai is focusing on achieving “Level 4”, or fully autonomous standards, in which the car can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention.
The company has been testing its Robotaxi pilot service, PonyPilot since late 2018 in Guangzhou, China. With PonyPilot, Pony.ai became the first company to launch a Robotaxi operation and offer self-driving car rides to the general public in China. In November 2019, Pony.ai also became the first company to roll out a public-facing Robotaxi pilot service in California, demonstrating its ambition and commitment to mobility services at a global scale.
Global car makers, technology firms, start-ups and investors - including Tesla, Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Uber - are pouring capital into developing self-driving vehicles.
Toyota's autonomous vehicle partnerships include a venture with SoftBank Corp and an investment in robotaxi developer Uber ATG. Last year, it invested $600 million in Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing and a new joint venture to develop mobility services.
However the Japanese car maker has been lagging rivals in bringing self-driving cars to market.