Autonomous driving technology company Pony.ai announced a strategic joint venture with SANY Heavy Truck (SANY), a subsidiary of SANY Heavy Industry, China’s number-one heavy equipment manufacturer and the third-largest heavy equipment manufacturer globally.
Pony.ai and SANY will collaborate to create a world-leading autonomous truck brand. The two companies will deeply integrate Pony.ai’s virtual driver with SANY’s technical accumulation in the field of wire-controlled chassis and vehicle development to jointly develop high-end heavy trucks that are automotive-grade and have L4-class redundancies.
The joint venture plans to start small-scale deliveries of the robotrucks in 2022 and 2023. Mass production of the L4 truck will commence in 2024 and within a few years will reach an annual production of around 10,000 trucks.
The first prototype of the autonomous truck was built on SANY’s new EV truck platform and has already conducted road testing. The JV’s autonomous truck product portfolio will include a mix of new energy vehicles (NEVs) and fuel-based, with the aim to increase the proportion of NEV trucks in the future.
The addressable market for trucking is substantial; in 2021 alone, heavy truck sales in China exceeded 1.3 million units. Once mass production is achieved, the partners expect the penetration rate of L4 trucks in China’s heavy truck market to increase steadily.
Pony.ai has always been committed to developing autonomous driving software and hardware solutions in-house. In June, Pony.ai released its autonomous driving controller (ADC) designed for automotive-grade mass production. The ADC is built on the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin system-on-chip and will fully enable the trucks produced by the joint venture.
The partnership announcement follows on the heels of the recently formed Cyantron joint venture between Pony.ai and Sinotrans, which commenced operations in April and aims to enhance the digitalization and intelligence of the transportation process.
According to Pony.ai’s robotruck operations experience, based on vehicle planning and control as well as route planning, autonomous trucks can save 10%-20% of energy compared with conventional trucks. In addition, with the gradual expansion of the JV’s new energy products, by 2030, the joint venture’s trucks will reduce CO2 emission by more than one million tons.