Toyota Motor to invest $400 mil. in Chinese self-driving startup Pony.ai

27, Feb. 2020

(Photo courtesy of Pony.ai)
(Photo courtesy of Pony.ai)

TOKYO, NNA - Toyota Motor Corp. will invest about $400 million in Chinese self-driving start-up Pony.ai in a bid to accelerate the development of autonomous driving.

Toyota Motor declined to disclose when it aims to close the deal and how many Pony shares it will take.

The capital injection is part of Pony.ai’s latest fundraising of $462 million, according to a statement released by the Chinese firm on Tuesday.

Toyota Motor, which teamed up with Pony.ai last August to develop a self-driving system, has since conducted self-driving tests on public roads in Shanghai and Beijing with its RX sport-utility vehicle of Lexus, a Toyota spokesman told NNA on Thursday.

The two partners intend to update such a system by conducting further self-driving tests on public roads with the same SUV not only in the two major Chinese cities but other places in 2022, he added.

Pony.ai, established in 2016, has footholds in China and Silicon Valley.

Pony.ai’s founding CEO James Peng was quoted by Nikkei Asian Review, a Japanese financial publication, on Wednesday as saying, “The investment can enable deeper integration of Pony.ai’s autonomous driving system with Toyota’s robust vehicle platforms and technologies.”

Pony.ai’s autonomous vehicles have racked up more than 1.5 million kilometers in open road tests as of the end of 2019, the report added.