China’s well-known automated driving company Pony.ai is at a standstill in its plans to build passenger cars, 36Kr reported on Wednesday. The company may move around some of the team dedicated to its automobile efforts, which includes a dozen or so staff based in its Jiading, Shanghai office. At least one source said that some employees who have been working within the team have resigned and subsequently joined other automobile companies. Pony.ai later denied this news.
Since the beginning of this year, reports have indicated that Pony.ai was preparing a plan to enter the automobile industry, going so far as to recruit people from Xpeng Motors.
The obstruction of the company’s listing has hit its plans severely. Previous news reports suggested that Pony.ai would go public in the US by way of a SPAC deal. The IPO was later postponed because of intensified frictions in international relationships. Pony.ai is a latecomer to the industry and is not endowed with the same capital support as Xiaomi and Baidu. It’s becoming more difficult for automated driving start-ups to expand business simply by financing alone.
Another news agency, LatePost, reported that Pony.ai had merged its automated truck driving R&D team into its passenger car R&D team. Two of the company’s core leaders in automated truck driving, and Pan Zhenhao and Sun Haowen, left after adjustment.
Pony.ai is now a 5-year-old automated driving start-up and committed to its goal of realizing real automated driving. Its co-founder and CEO Peng Jun has repeatedly announced that the automated driving industry is in the “second half of the game”. At this stage of the game, efforts should be made on how to realize mass production and commercialization of automated vehicles.
Also on Wednesday, Pony.ai responded to concerns about its passenger car making plans. The company said to the National Business Daily saying that the news was untrue and the company does not have a staffed car-making team. In addition, as a growing company, Pony.ai considers it quite common to optimize and allocate personnel as needed.