Strengthened ties will enable deeper integration of Pony.ai's autonomous driving system with Toyota's vehicle platforms and technologies. Credit: Courtesy Pony.ai

Guangzhou-based autonomous vehicle startup Pony.ai has netted US$400 million from Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corporation, as the Japanese giant seeks deeper integration into the company’s vehicle technologies, China Daily reported.

The two will work to speed up autonomous driving technology development and commercialization and further expand the collaboration in mobility services, said the startup.

The series B funding totals US$462 million, valuing the self-driving company at just over US$3 billion and bringing its total financing to date to nearly US$800 million, the report said.

The investment comes as an extension of a business partnership formed between Pony.ai and Toyota in 2019, the report said.

Strengthened ties will enable deeper integration of Pony.ai’s autonomous driving system with Toyota’s vehicle platforms and technologies, which is in line with the main business strategies of both companies, Pony.ai said.

In August 2019, Pony.ai and Toyota announced to jointly conduct autonomous driving tests on open roads in China.

Meanwhile, Toyota’s top performance brand might be coming to North America after all, according to information unearthed by Auto Trader.

The automaker’s official stance has been for the longest time that GRMN-spec cars won’t see US shores, as it already has the TRD brand filling that gap. Now, it seems that it’s changed its mind about the performance arm, and will likely offer some sort of performance vehicle in the near future, Driving.ca reported.

According to a trademark application, the automaker has filed for the “GRMN” wordmark and logo in the United States, in the category “automobiles and parts thereof,” meaning it won’t just be selling branded T-shirts.

“GRMN” stands for “Gazoo Racing Tuned by Meisters of Nurburgring,” after the infamous racing track in Germany and the drivers who dare tackle it, the report said.

GRMN-branded vehicles sit at the top of the performance spectrum for Toyota, so bringing that to North America means big things for Toyota enthusiasts, the report said.

The vehicle most likely to receive the GRMN treatment first would be the Supra, with bosses at Toyota having already confirmed a hot version of the sports car, Driving.ca reported.

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