Self-driving car tech firm Pony.ai, backed by Toyota, plans to go public to help support its goal of commercializing driverless ride-hailing services. CEO James Peng said the startup was “still discussing and considering” the timeframe for going public.
Currently operating in China and the U.S., the company hopes to install its technology in hundreds of vehicles by the end of 2022. That number will go up to tens of thousands by the end of 2025, said CEO James Peng in an interview.
“Self-driving startups such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and General Motors Co’s Cruise have been racing to raise capital as the industry prepares to scale up operations,” said Peng. “Still, beyond the time taken to address technological challenges and the massive cost of producing self-driving cars, the industry still has to persuade global regulators as well as the public as to the safety of full automation,” he added.
The startup is experimenting with newer technologies
Peng said that Pony.ai is piloting its robotaxi services in China and the U.S. Last week the startup announced that it would hire Lawrence Steyn, who currently serves as the vice-chairman of investment banking at JPMorgan, as the chief financial officer, a move startups often prepare for an IPO.
In May, Pony.ai obtained a permit to test six autonomous vehicles without a safety driver behind the wheel on selected tracks in the Californian cities of Fremont, Milpitas, and Irvine. The 5-year-old startup was also allowed to conduct commercial autonomous freight operations in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou’s Nansha district in the same month.
Founded in 2016 by former Google and Baidu engineers James Peng and Lou Tinacheng, Pony.ai has received more than $1 billion in funding, including $100 million from Toyota earlier this year, raising the firm’s valuation at $5.3 billion. Now, the startup is looking at different avenues to mitigate the cost of driverless vehicles while also exploring new areas and ensuring that its trips are safe in different driving environments.