Pony.ai has announced a deeper partnership with Ontime, GAC’s ride-hailing app. As part of the partnership, Pony.ai will integrate its virtual driver technology into GAC vehicles, which will then be used on GAC’s Ontime ride-hailing platform. Ontime expects to launch its fee-charging robotaxi service in Guangzhou during 2022. The service will launch with an initial fleet of approximately 100 autonomous driving Ontime vehicles. In addition, riders will be able to request Pony.ai autonomous vehicles through the Ontime App as well as through Pony.ai’s own PonyPilot+ App. Pony.ai is also investing in Ontime’s Series A financing.
Ontime is one of China’s leading ride-hailing providers, offering a wide range of app-based ride-hailing services across the cities of China’s Greater Bay Area, such as Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhuhai, Shenzhen and Dongguan. GAC is one of China’s largest automakers and a longtime Pony.ai partner. Pony.ai’s close collaboration with Ontime enables the two companies to leverage their own unique advantages to accelerate commercialization of autonomous driving technology.
In addition to working with leading ride-hailing companies like Ontime to broaden Pony.ai’s reach into the ride-hailing ecosystem, Pony.ai continues to develop and deploy its own robotaxi app, PonyPilot+. This partnership with Ontime builds on Pony.ai’s April 24 announcement that it is the first and only autonomous driving company to receive a taxi license in China, with a permit to operate 100 autonomous vehicles as traditional taxis in Nansha, Guangzhou. In May, Pony.ai will start charging fares in the entire 803 square kilometers of Nansha with 100 Pony.ai robotaxis and intends to gradually expand the scale and scope of service to other areas of Guangzhou to benefit more residents. The 100 vehicle Pony.ai fleet in Nansha with a taxi license will be separate from and will operate in parallel to the Pony.ai-Ontime fleet.
Pony.ai also received a fee-charging permit for robotaxi services in Beijing in November 2021 and is now the sole company approved to commercialize autonomous driving services in two Tier-1 cities in China. With successful commercialization in Beijing and Guangzhou, Pony.ai plans to expand its commercialized robotaxi footprint to the other two Tier-1 cities in China next year and to more cities by the start of Pony.ai’s mass commercialization planned for 2024/2025. Pony.ai currently has autonomous vehicle testing and operations in all four of China’s Tier-1 cities and in California.