Get ready, China! A swarm of fully autonomous "robotaxis" may soon be cruising on your streets, thanks to a groundbreaking collaboration between autonomous driving company Pony.ai and Toyota. This exciting partnership aims to take China's automobile industry by storm, revolutionizing the way we perceive transportation.
The alliance, backed by an impressive capital injection of approximately $139 million from GAC Toyota Motor Co., a joint venture between Toyota China and state-owned Chinese automaker GAC, is set to kick off this year. This collaboration extends from Toyota's initial investment of $400 million in Pony.ai back in 2020.
As part of the strategic alliance, Toyota plans to supply Pony.ai with an unspecified number of electric vehicles (EVs). Pony.ai will then equip these vehicles with cutting-edge autonomous driving technology and connect them to its innovative "robotaxi network platform."
Since its inception in 2016, Pony.ai has raised over a billion dollars, albeit not without its fair share of challenges. The self-driving developer began driverless vehicle testing in California in 2021, only to face permit suspension six months later. The same year, it streamlined its R&D teams, which seemingly put a halt to its autonomous trucking ambitions.
However, the self-driving company hasn't let these hurdles deter its aspirations. Valued at a whopping $8.5 billion, Pony.ai is steadfast in its mission to dominate the autonomous vehicle industry.
This partnership between Pony.ai and Toyota comes at a pivotal time in the autonomous vehicle industry. Once the darling of the venture capitalist world, this industry has seen a wave of consolidation, leading to many startups disappearing, particularly in the United States.
The few that remain, either owned by large corporations or publicly traded, are now beginning to scale up commercial operations. With this alliance, Pony.ai and Toyota stand at the forefront of this transformative era in autonomous driving, promising an exciting future for robotaxis in China.