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Self-driving robotaxi startup Pony.ai now valued at $8.5B after fresh funding

Headquartered in China and US, Pony.ai, a global autonomous driving technology company, has completed the first close of its Series D funding round.

Attains $8.5B valuation

This financing round has increased its valuation significantly from the Series C and C+ rounds it secured in 2020 wherein it was valued at $5.3 billion. With the recent round, Pony.ai is valued at $8.5 billion.

Following the Series D-1 round, Pony.ai said it now has close to $1 billion balance sheet liquidity.

Additional details of the Series D financing will be announced in due course at the closing of the full financing round.

Pony.ai will use the proceeds of the round to further augment its hiring, invest in research and development, global testing of robotaxi and robotrucking on an ever-growing fleet, enter into important strategic partnerships, and accelerate its development toward mass production and mass commercial deployment.

This round shows that investors are showing interest in Pony.ai’s achieved technical milestones and significant progress toward a commercialised robotaxi and robotruck product.

“I am very proud to announce this first close of our Series D,” said James Peng, co-founder and CEO of Pony.ai. “The success of this financing belongs to the entire Pony.ai team, who have made tremendous strides in achieving and exceeding our 2021 milestones. We are excited about our 2022 objectives and the rapid pace of our development toward autonomous mobility globally. We appreciate the support of our investors in the previous rounds and welcome our new partners to Pony.ai’s global story.”

“A key part of our story for our investors is our tech development path. From 2020 to the end of 2021, our key safety metrics increased tremendously, such that in most circumstances Pony.ai’s virtual driver is now equal to or superior to a human driver,” said Tiancheng Lou, Pony.ai co-founder and CTO. “We’re confident in our autonomous vehicle tech readiness as we rapidly scale toward robotaxi and robotruck commercialisation and mass production,” he said.

“This significant uptick in valuation is a reflection by our partners of our delivered results over the last year and our very specific development milestones for 2022. Our company has always been well funded, and this round funds development at Pony.ai several years into the future – in fact, we believe, up to the window for our anticipated launch of mass commercialisation,” said Lawrence Steyn, CFO of Pony.ai.

Pioneer in robotaxi service

Founded in 2016 by James Peng and Tiancheng Lou in California, Pony.ai has pioneered autonomous mobility deployment to benefit people in both the US and China. The company carries the credits of being the first one to launch and offer a public-facing Robotaxi service in California and China.

After several approvals and permits, the company launched California’s first public Robotaxi service in Irvine in 2019. It entered into a partnership with the e-commerce platform Yamibuy to provide autonomous delivery service in the city. Also, Pony.ai is the first company to receive the autonomous truck testing license in Beijing. The highway testing permits for passenger cars and trucks in Beijing’s Policy Pilot Zone for Intelligent Connected Vehicles.

Notably, Pony.ai has formed partnerships with leading OEMs including Toyota, FAW Group, GAC Group, etc. The company competes against other robotaxi startups including WeRide, Deeproute and AutoX that are backed by Toyota.

With a global team of over 1,000 staff, Pony.ai is testing autonomous vehicles in four major cities in China including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. In California, it is testing its offerings in Fremont and Irvine.

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