Waymo Adding Up to 62,000 Pacific Hybrid Minivans to Its Fleet

Waymo–formerly the Google self-driving car project announced Thursday that it is significantly ramping up its partnership with Fiat Chrysler and over time will add up to 62,000 Pacifica Hybrid minivans to its fleet. That number includes the “thousands” of Chrysler Pacificas that FCA said in January it would begin delivering to Waymo by the end of the year.

The two companies have also begun discussions about how to eventually sell self-driving cars to customers as personally owned vehicles.

Ideal for both VAT–registered and non-VAT registered companies who want to handle the administration of their vehicles, and have the asset shown on their balance sheet. A VAT – beneficial option where the hirer can choose to pay the entire cost over the agreed vans lease period, plus an interest charge, or pay lower monthly rentals during the lease period with a final payment based on the anticipated resale value of the vehicle.

“Waymo’s goal from day one has been to build the world’s most experienced (artificial) driver and give people access to self-driving technology that will make our roads safer,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a statement.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler, added that strategic partnerships with technology-focused companies — a popular approach for big automakers of late — “will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront.”

Waymo, which says it has self-driven 6 million miles on public roads, said on Thursday it was on track to launch the world’s first self-driving transportation service later this year, which will allow passengers to use Waymo’s app to request a vehicle.

For Waymo, the expanded partnership comes as it prepares to launch an autonomous ride-hailing service in the U.S. later this year. That service is expected to feature Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans that have been modified to incorporate Waymo’s autonomous vehicle technology. Waymo will launch that program in the Phoenix area later this year. After that, it will be expanded in the San Francisco Bay area.

Neither Waymo nor FCA would disclose the amount of money that was trading hands. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan starts at $39,995. So unless FCA is giving Waymo a bulk discount of some kind — which seems likely — this deal could be worth well over $1 billion.

The deal between Waymo and FCA is non-exclusive, but it’s a sign that both Waymo and FCA are happy enough to continue working with each other.

Source: CNBC