According to Sina Science and Technology, Chinese self-driving unicorn Pony.ai on June 24 responded to recent market rumors that the company will initiate its own car production. The firm officially announced: “Recent Pony.ai car-building rumors are all false information. We are on a steady track of executing the productization and commercialization of intelligent driving.”
It is reported that Pony.ai is currently in contact with Geely and plans to build electric vehicles based on Geely’s “SEA Haohan” architecture. Pony.ai has been considering building cars since the beginning of this year, and has recruited talent from major automakers. At present, it has set up an R&D team with dozens of employeese based in Shanghai. Zhao Qian, the former forward-looking design director of Xiaopeng Automobile Design Center, has joined Pony.ai to oversee vehicle design.
Pony.ai emerged at the end of 2016, jointly founded by Lou Tiancheng, a legend in the Chinese computer industry, and Peng Jun, a former chief architect of Baidu‘s North American R&D operations. The company mainly provides full-stack L4 autonomous driving technology. At present, the team has more than 500 people and has set up R&D centers in the Silicon Valley, Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai. It is the first company to secure approval for the testing of autonomous driving vehicles in both China and the US simultaneously. “Full autonomous driving is the key to achieving full independence and an indispensable catalyst for realizing our ambitious vision,” James Peng said.
Since the establishment of Pony.ai, the firm’s total financing has amounted to more than 1.1 billion dollars, mainly from leading international institutional investors and automakers.
In February this year, Pony.ai announced that it had received $100 million in Round C+ financing from Brunei Investment Agency, a sovereign wealth fund from Brunei, and CPE. In November last year, Pony.ai announced that it had obtained $267 million in Round C financing, which was led by the Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP) of Canadian investment group Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, with a post-investment valuation more than $5.3 billion.
On May 13, Pony.ai announced that it will further expand the scale of its Robotaxi service, gradually broadening its coverage to five major cities in China and the United States.