Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car company (formerly under Google), has been using modified vans for years to privately test its autonomous tech. In late 2016, Waymo announced that its first production car would be a modified Chrysler Pacifica. Now the company is looking to buy a few more minivans - 62,000, to be exact.
Alphabet announced today that it struck a deal with Chrysler to buy 62,000 additional Pacifica hybrid vans for Waymo, increasing the company's number of vehicles by 100 times. Waymo is already testing a small fleet of completely autonomous taxis in Arizona. Pacifica vans appear to be the company's top choice, but Waymo is also experimenting with the Jaguar I-Pace SUV.
The large order seems to indicate Waymo isn't delaying its plans for a commercial autonomous taxi service, despite recent fears over the safety of self-driving technology. Personally, I'd love to try riding in a Waymo taxi - as long as it stays away from highways.
FCA US LLC and Waymo today announced they will expand their partnership with an agreement to add up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo's self-driving fleet. This venture builds upon a previous commitment, announced in January, to deliver thousands of vehicles to Waymo's driverless transportation service. Vehicle delivery is expected to begin in late 2018.
FCA US and Waymo also announced today that they are beginning discussions about the use of Waymo self-driving technology, including potentially through licensing, in a FCA-manufactured vehicle available to retail customers.
"FCA is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic," said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. "Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront."
Currently, Waymo is the only company with a fleet of fully self-driving cars, with no one in the driver seat, on public roads. Later this year, Waymo will launch the world's first self-driving transportation service, allowing the public to use Waymo's app to request a vehicle.
"Waymo's goal from day one has been to build the world's most experienced driver and give people access to self-driving technology that will make our roads safer," said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo. "We're excited to deepen our relationship with FCA that will support the launch of our driverless service, and explore future products that support Waymo's mission."
FCA and Waymo first announced their partnership in May 2016. The first-of-its-kind collaboration brought engineers from FCA and Waymo together to integrate Waymo's fully self-driving system into the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, leveraging each company's individual strengths and resources. Since then, FCA and Waymo engineers have continued working together to support Waymo's expansion and to evolve the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan with self-driving technology.
The self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans are one of the most advanced vehicles on the road today, equipped with Waymo's self-driving system, including a powerful hardware suite and software honed over 6 million miles of on-road testing.
To date, FCA has delivered 600 Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo.
Waymo is a self-driving technology company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around. We're determined to improve transportation for people around the world, building on software and sensor technology developed in Google's labs since 2009. Waymo is building the most experienced driver with over 6 million miles driven on public roads across 25 U.S. cities, and billions of miles logged in simulation testing.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. ("FCA"), the seventh-largest automaker in the world based on total annual vehicle sales, is an international automotive group. FCA is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "FCAU" and on the Mercato Telematico Azionario under the symbol "FCA".
The transaction was executed by FCA's wholly owned subsidiary, FCA US LLC. Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, FCA US LLC designs, engineers, manufactures and sells vehicles under the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and FIAT brands, as well as the SRT performance vehicle designation. The company also distributes Alfa Romeo and Mopar products. FCA US is building upon the historic foundations of Chrysler, the innovative American automaker first established by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925, and Fiat, founded in Italy in 1899 by pioneering entrepreneurs, including Giovanni Agnelli.