Toyota puts $400 million into Chinese driverless-car startup

Toyota Motor Corp. invested $400 million in Pony.ai to strengthen its ties with the Chinese provider of driverless-car systems.

The investment extends the companies’ partnership formed last year and pushes Pony.ai’s valuation to more than $3 billion, the startup said in a statement…

Automakers are striking pacts with driverless-system providers to gain expertise and fend off competition from technology companies seeking to enter the transport business. For Pony.ai, a relationship with Toyota is a vote of confidence as it seeks to take on U.S. rivals such as Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo.

Pony.ai has two testing sites in California and it runs a pilot service with Hyundai Motor Co. in Irvine, Orange County, that provides rides to members of the public. On Wednesday, the company announced a service to City of Fremont employees, offering last-mile rides in its autonomous vehicles between a local transport hub and some of Fremont’s public buildings.
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