This is an interesting day when we see two of China’s major robotaxi foes come together, offering a clue to how the industry is evolving in the country.
As autonomous driving technology and regulations advance rapidly in China, ride-hailing platforms start looking for solutions to cut labor costs. On the other hand, robotaxi startups also want help from car-hailing services to reach the masses.
Financing from the round came from a mix of private and public funds in China and overseas. State-backed Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), the parent company of OnTime and one of the largest automakers in China, led the round. Investors other than WeRide and Pony include Japan’s SPARX, Singapore’s Pilgrim Partners Asia, as well as government-affiliated funds Guangzhou Industrial Investment and Capital Operation, Lingnan Commerce and Trade Tourism, and Guangzhou Industrial Control.
OnTime is the ride-hailing service introduced by GAC in 2019 as one of the newcomers competing with incumbent Didi, many of which are either operated by auto OEMs or are close to one.
Jiang Hua, CEO of OnTime, has this to say about China’s robotaxi space in a statement: “In the last stage, the industry was focused on improving computing algorithms and hardware capabilities. As technology develops, the focus has turned to the operation of autonomous driving. Robotaxis have to operate through ride-hailing platforms if they want to become a real service, which is why two of the world’s leading autonomous driving companies chose to back OnTime.”
With the proceeds, OnTime says it will be monetizing robotaxis at a faster pace and creating a vehicle-as-a-service platform for the industry in a bid to become a “global leader in autonomous driving operations.”