Autonomous driving startup Pony.ai raises $462 million led by Toyota, now valued at over $3 billion
We last wrote about Pony.ai back in 2019 when the driverless car startup partnered with Toyota to accelerate the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles. On Wednesday, Pony.ai announced it has raised $462 million in its latest funding round. The round, which now values the 3-year-old startup at a little over $3 billion, was led by Japan’s largest automaker Toyota Motor Corp.
This is the biggest investment in an autonomous driving company with a Chinese background. Existing backers include Sequoia Capital China and Beijing Kunlun Tech Co, at slightly more than $3 billion. The investment by Toyota comes at a time when 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.
Over the past two years, 323 deals related to autonomous cars raised a total of $14.6 billion worldwide, according to data provider PitchBook, even amid concerns about the technology given its high cost and complexity.
Founded in 2016 by James Peng and Tiancheng Lou, the Fremont, California and Beijing, China-based Pony develops artificial intelligence solutions in the field of robotics. Pony.ai is the leading autonomous driving technology company in China, with a mission to revolutionize the future of transportation by building the safest and most reliable solution for autonomous mobility. Pony.ai has raised roughly $300 million as of April 2019 from renowned investors including Sequoia Capital China, IDG Capital, among others, making it the most valuable autonomous driving startup in China.
Since late 2018, Pony.ai has been testing its robotaxi pilot service, PonyPilot, starting with Guangzhou, making it the first company to launch a robotaxi operation and offer autonomous rides to the general public in China. In June 2019, the company also obtained a robotaxi operation permit in California, demonstrating its ambition and commitment to mobility services at a global scale.
Toyota is the global automotive leader with over 10 million in annual vehicle sales worldwide and a vision of bringing the joy and freedom of movement to all. With an aim to become a mobility company firmly rooted in China, Toyota will accelerate its business in China via collaboration with selected Chinese companies while continuing to contribute to the development of Chinese society.