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Driverless car startup raises $462m at $3bn valuation

Updated: May 12, 2020

Carzaam Automotive News Episode 16: Pony AI - Nissan Switch - Uber

Before we get into the news I just wanted to say a few words about the Coronavirus crisis sweeping the world.

It’s an absolute health and economic catastrophe on a global scale, my thoughts are with all of those workers and business owners who are about to go through the toughest of times – I fear many startups and indeed businesses may not survive.

Many startups who are reliant on the next funding round are going to be left short and will need to take drastic action to limit cash burn – you probably need to take more drastic action than you think, so go hard and go early.

My advice to fellow co-founders is threefold:

- reduce costs where possible – analyse every line item;

- conserve cash by delaying any outflows possible; and

- get innovative with employees rather than just casting them aside. Paid and unpaid leave arrangements will help everyone get through the early periods, allow us all to make better decisions in the weeks and months ahead and be best positioned for the eventual rebound.

By taking massive action today, more than you think is necessary, you will lower your cash burn, and stretch your runway past a point where we are out of this mess but we will each need 6-12 months runway so aim for 12.

Carzaam is no different. Like many businesses we will be pausing all new subscriptions and doing our best to support our current customers in the best way we can.

But for now, the show must go on…. lets get into the news. Today we have a great episode including a big raise for Pony AI, Nissan’s new Subscription service Switch and Uber’s first foray as an ad publisher … Enjoy!

Driverless car startup raises $462 million at a $3 billion valuation

In a sign that investors’ still have enthusiasm for driverless cars, Pony AI has secured $462m in fresh funding, including $400m from Toyota.

The capital infusion brings the startup’s total raised amount to about $800m at a valuation north of $3bn.

After this round, is the second-most valuable independent autonomous driving company in the world now positioning themselves as a global autonomous driving company, now located in both the U.S. and China. and Toyota last year announced a partnership to explore driverless mobility services across a range of segments and industries, and this new financing cements and expands that existing relationship.

Last October, partnered with Via and Hyundai to launch BotRide,’s second public robo-taxi service after a pilot program in Nansha, China. BotRide allowed riders and carpoolers to hail autonomous Hyundai Kona electric SUVs through apps developed with Via, which also had human safety drivers behind the wheel during the pilot.

Previous and existing investors in include video game publisher Beijing Kunlun Wanwei, Sequoia Capital China, ClearVue Partners, IDG Capital, Morningside Venture Capital, Legend Capital and Eight Roads.

Switching it up: Nissan launches subscription service in the U.S.

A future where roads are dominated by vehicle fleets is one step closer after the launch of Switch, an entry-level subscription car service by Nissan.

Subscription plans, which start at $699 per month plus a $495 one-time fee, provide subscribers with a vehicle rented for a maximum of 180 days, or 3,200 km–whichever is first.

Four vehicles are offered under the basic plan including the Altima, Frontier, Pathfinder and Rogue.

A $900-per-month premium membership also gives subscribers access to more vehicle models including the 370Z, Armada, Leaf Plus, Maxima, Murano and Titan.

For an additional $100-per-day, premium members may also rent a GT-R but this is capped at a maximum period of one week.

According to Nissan, subscription vehicles are fully insured on a fleet insurance policy held by Nissan, but the subscriber has a $1000 excess which increases to $5,000 for the GT-R. Subscribers are also liable for hail and flood damage.

Another OEM entry into the subscription market, I am convinced this is the future of car ownership and great to see another big name commit to a program.

Uber Inks Deal With Adomni to Put Ad Displays Atop Vehicles

Uber has signed a deal with ad-tech company Adomni to introduce ad displays on top of a thousand vehicles in three cities by April 1.

While individual Uber drivers could previously install ad displays on top of their vehicles from third-party operators like Firefly, this agreement marks the first time Uber has rolled out a company-sponsored ad platform of its own.

Uber and Uber Eats drivers in Atlanta, Dallas, Texas, and Phoenix will be compensated to participate in the pilot program, which will launch with commercial advertisements on April 1.

For the initial pilot period, Uber says drivers will get paid $300 to install the vehicle-topper and an additional $100 each week they drive more than 20 hours with the display.

Uber drivers really only make a modest wage but small additional incentives like this from Uber can really help and it is great to see them extending the mobility eco system to include advertising and other services.

That’s all the time we have for Cazaam automotive news today, please leave your comments below, make sure you connect with me on social and don’t forget to hit that subscribe button, bye for now.

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