Pony.ai, backed by Toyota Motor, said on Friday it has raised $267 million in the initial phase of its fundraising round that evaluates the self-driving startup at $5.3 billion, as it seeks to increase its presence in the United States and China.
The recent funding, which comes only eight months after the company’s $462 million fundraising, makes Pony.ai one of the most valuable independent autonomous driving startups, with a higher valuation than rivals Aurora and Nuro.
The investment comes at a time when worldwide automakers, technology firms, startups and investors – including Tesla, Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Uber – are putting capital into developing self-driving vehicles.
The funding was led by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board’s (Ontario Teachers’) Teachers’ Innovation Platform (OTPP).
“The company will explore mobility services with Toyota,” Chief Executive James Peng said.
Pony.ai, which is also backed by Sequoia Capital China and Beijing Kunlun Tech, prepares to use the funding for developing technology and expand its fleet.
Pony.ai started developing its autonomous truck technologies by early 2019, Peng informed Reuters.
The company is showcasing its autonomous Lexus sport-utility vehicle and a FAW’s truck at the China International Import Expo, or CIIE, a yearly import show in Shanghai that started on Wednesday and runs into the next week.
Pony.ai also recently got investment from state-owned automaker FAW Group and will jointly develop autonomous vehicles.