Venture Capital: California Headquartered Chinese Driverless Company Pony.ai Raises $267M

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The round valued the company at $5.3 billion.

Pony.ai, a Chinese company that is testing its autonomous driving technology in California and China, has nabbed $267 million in its latest fundraising, bringing its cumulative financing to over $1 billion. The round saw participation by existing investors Fidelity China Special Situations PLC, 5Y Capital (formerly Morningside Venture Capital), ClearVue Partners, and Eight Roads. Interestingly, the Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP), a fund from the stable of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, led the round. (Tech Crunch)

TIP focuses on late-stage venture and growth equity investments in companies that use technology to disrupt incumbents and create new sectors.

According to Bloomberg, the company raised the money in a Series C round. It intends to use the funds to expand its global customer base. It also needs to counter competition from rivals such as General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Cruise LLC and Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Waymo LLC.

Furthermore, the round valued Pony at a post-money tag of $5.3 billion, the company said in a statement.

Pony.ai

Pony.ai is developing a business model that encompasses all-electric passenger Robotaxis to long-distance freight trucks.

“Our learnings and algorithms can be generalized across multiple vehicle platforms and applications to bring autonomous driving technology to a wide audience,” the company says on its website.

Pony launched its robotaxis in China in 2018 and tests were on this year in Fremont and Irvine, California. However, the pandemic put paid to the latter; instead, Pony repurposed the vehicles for delivery activities.

“Pony.ai is approaching its mission of delivering autonomous mobility everywhere by building technology that allows vehicles to drive safely on public roads,” said Pony.ai CEO James Peng, in a statement.

Significant scope for driverless

“We see a significant global opportunity for autonomous vehicle technology,” said Olivia Steedman, Senior Managing Director, TIP, at Ontario Teachers’. “Pony.ai’s leading technology and deep, strategic understanding of the sector have helped to position the company as a leader in this space.”

According to CNBC, driverless cars are likely to take off in a big way in China. By 2040, they could clock as much as 66% of all mileage by Chinese passengers, says a McKinsey forecast.

Moreover, that kind of uptake of the technology could generate revenue of as much as $1.1 trillion from mobility services. Another $900 billion could come from sales of autonomous vehicles by that year.

Related Story:     Self-driving Vehicles – the Ace up Tesla’s Sleeve                                             

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