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Robotaxi startup Pony.ai has closed its first Series D funding round – raising the company’s valuation to a staggering $8.5 billion in the process.

Pony.ai has locations across the US and China and plans to use the new funding to further the company’s hiring, investment in research and development, and to begin global testing of its robotaxi and robotruck services.

The company will also use the money to enter into strategic partnerships and accelerate its development towards mass production and commercial deployment.

“I am very proud to announce this first close of our Series D,” says James Peng, co-founder and CEO of Pony.ai.

“The success of this financing belongs to the entire Pony.ai team, who have made tremendous strides in achieving and exceeding our 2021 milestones. We are excited about our 2022 objectives and the rapid pace of our development toward autonomous mobility globally. Our technical development and balance sheet strength go hand-in-hand in allowing us to significantly expand our hiring in 2022, open up a number of new autonomous vehicle global testing and operation sites, progress our strategic partnerships and rapidly grow our fleet.”

The company is also promising that further details of the Series D funding will be announced at the closing of the full financing round. For its Series C funding, Pony.ai was significantly oversubscribed and even issued a Series C+ round to bring more investors on board.

“We’re delighted by the financial progression at Pony.ai and the substantial valuation increase to our 2020 C and C+ rounds. This significant uptick in valuation is a reflection by our partners of our delivered results over the last year and our very specific development milestones for 2022. Our company has always been well funded, and this round funds development at Pony.ai several years into the future – in fact, we believe, up to the window for our anticipated launch of mass commercialization,” says Lawrence Steyn, CFO of Pony.ai.

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