Driverless Car Startup Pony.ai Valued At $5.3B With Series C Round

Driverless car developer Pony.ai is now valued around $5.3 billion, thanks to a recent Series C funding round.

The round was led by an investment arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Other participants included existing investors Fidelity China Special Situations plc and 5Y Capital, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday (Nov. 6).

Pony.ai is ramping up to compete against driverless car technology developers such as General Motors’ Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo. The company also faces competition from Chinese tech companies AutoX, WeRide and Baidu, according to CNBC.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Pony.ai CEO James Peng said the company plans to use the cash for research and development. He said the company’s strategy is to supply autonomous technology to other automakers and to operate its own fleets of robo-taxis.

Pony.ai already operates robo-taxi fleets in China and California. Before the pandemic, the cars were ferrying government employees in Freemont, California, where its U.S. headquarters is located. Toyota and Pony.ai are planning to deploy about 100 vehicles to China as part of a test project. Toyota invested $400 million in the company earlier this year, Bloomberg added.

In addition to Freemont, the company also has a hub in Guangzhou, China. According to McKinsey, driverless cars could generate around $1.1 trillion a year in mobility services and $900 billion in vehicle sales by 2040.

Earlier this week, Chinese state-owned carmaker FAW Group announced it had made an investment in Pony.ai. The amount of the investment was not disclosed, according to Bloomberg.