Autonomous driving

China’s Pony.ai pulls in US$214 million in A round funding, the most for Chinese self-driving start-ups

Funds to be used for fleet expansion, team growth, supporting existing and new partnerships, and speeding up commercialisation of the technology

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2018, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2018, 3:43pm

Pony.ai, the Chinese autonomous driving start-up, said it has completed a US$214 million round of fundraising, marking the biggest series A round by a self-driving company in the country as the race to put driverless cars on the road accelerates.

The investment, co-led by ClearVue Partners and Eight Roads, a proprietary investment arm of Fidelity International Limited, brings the Guangzhou-base start-up’s total funding to US$230 million over the two years since its establishment.

In addition to fleet expansion, team growth, and supporting existing and new partnerships, the latest round of capital will be used to speed up its entry into commercialisation of the technology, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

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“I truly believe the next major challenge for autonomous cars will be small and medium scale deployment – this is an absolutely critical step to validating the system’s overall stability and reliability,” said Pony.ai chief executive officer James Peng.

The company completed the first stage of its A round funding in January, raising US$112 million. The second stage has enabled its combined funding raised to surpass its rival Roadstar.ai, which pulled in US$128 million in its A round just one month earlier.

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“Automotive is an essential component of large-ticket consumption,” said Kathleen Ying, a partner of ClearVue Partners. “And autonomous vehicles will be a defining characteristic of future mobility.”

Jarlon Tsang, managing partner at Eight Roads, said he believes autonomous vehicles will be a rare, life-altering technology.

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Pony.ai, Roadstar.ai and JingChi are Chinese autonomous driving start-ups which started out in Silicon Valley but are now pushing forward their development efforts on the Chinese mainland with the goal of separately introducing robotic taxi services in the country by the end of this year.