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UPDATED: Jun 8, 2018
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Waymo engineers self-driving, otherwise known as autonomous, technology. They then must partner with automobile companies in order to get that technology on the road.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) designs and manufactures cars. In a partnership that benefits both companies, Waymo and Chrysler have joined forces to design, test, and market self-driving cars using Waymo technology installed in the Pacifica Hybrid.
“Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront,” says FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.
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Waymo’s partnership with FCA has brought about three impressive results for Waymo.
#1 – Waymo’s Beneficial Partnership
Their partnership with Waymo seems to be the perfect solution for both companies.
Waymo is a company with a mission to create the perfect “driver.” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said, “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.”
This “experienced driver,” is not human but is Waymo’s technology which “drives” vehicles.
The Waymo/FCA partnership began in 2016 and since then, Chrysler has sent 600 Pacifica Hybrids to Waymo for self-driving technology installation and testing. They have already been testing the hybrid vehicles on the public roadways in the cities where it’s allowed.
Currently, residents of Phoenix, Arizona can use a mobile app to call for a ride in a Pacifica Hybrid driven only by technology.
These rides, which have been free during the testing period and offer service only within a geofenced area, are soon to change to a paid service.
Waymo’s plans for their partnership with FCA include licensing and making their driverless Pacifica Hybrids available to retail customers.
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In the immediate future, Fiat Chrysler will receive an economic boost of $2.5 billion with the planned sale of 62,000 Pacifica Hybrids to Waymo.
Waymo will benefit by being able to test vehicles, getting their technology on the street, and having an avenue (the Pacifica Hybrid) through which to sell their technology on the retail market.
The Pacifica is a hybrid vehicle, which makes it desirable in terms of taxes. Those who purchase a hybrid vehicle are eligible for a $7,500 tax incentive. This incentive is available not just to individuals, but to corporations as well.
With a $7,500 tax credit per vehicle, Waymo could receive $465 million for purchasing the 62,000 Pacifica Hybrids.
Other characteristics of the Pacifica Hybrid that make it appealing are as follows:
- Its three rows of seating
- Its rank as a top safety pick
- Its superior fuel economy
#2 – Waymo Leads the Race
Every car company has a plan for where they want self-driving technology to take their brand. Often, driving service is the next goal. Several companies have been testing driving services in driverless-vehicle-friendly cities.
- Las Vegas – Limited bus service
- Boston – Limited NuTonomy vehicle testing
- Phoenix (and other cities in Arizona) – Waymo, Ford, GM, and Uber testing
Uber and Lyft are the biggest ride-sharing competitors. Each company partners with several manufacturers using autonomous technology as part of their ride services. While Uber and Lyft are working towards full self-driving vehicles, their fleets still employ backup drivers.
Waymo is the closest to offering fully self-driving vehicle services to the general public. And they’re also the first to plan to offer their technology paired with the Pacifica Hybrid on the retail market.
Waymo is also the only of its competitors to offer fully self-driving vehicles. Uber and Lyft both use backup drivers in their autonomous fleets. Waymo is already offering ride service to customers in their completely autonomous – with no backup driver – fleet.
Uber faced a serious setback when one of their self-driving vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian earlier this year. This event has at least temporarily raised public skepticism of autonomous driving technology.
Waymo and Fiat Chrysler’s partnership is not exclusive. Waymo has also partnered with Jaguar Land Rover and has been negotiating with Honda. In March, Waymo announced plans to also purchase 20,000 Jaguar i-Pace crossovers.
Waymo appears to have taken the lead in the race autonomous vehicle race.
They are already seeing the benefits of their partnership with FCA as the leaderboard for the race for self-driving technology in September 2017 showed Waymo just outside of the leading pack, and the most recent analysis shows Waymo at the front of the pack.
Waymo has even started advertising their autonomous Pacifica Hybrid minivan with this prank aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
#3 – Waymo’s Exciting Plans
Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber for theft of Waymo’s self-driving technology that was found to be installed in Uber vehicles. Uber settled with Waymo for about $245 million.
Instead of letting bad blood linger between these companies, they are now in partnership negotiations with Uber seeking to legally use Waymo technology in their fleet.
Waymo is the only company with plans to launch an autonomous fleet for hire in more than one city this year. Phoenix and its surrounding cities are their current launch area, and they soon plan to add self-driving Pacifica Hybrids to Atlanta and San Francisco roadways.
Similarly to how a brake manufacturer supplies their product to any manufacturer, Waymo hopes to be the supplier of automated driving technology to anyone who needs it.
Waymo’s partnership with FCA has brought impressive results including the immediate benefits of getting their technology on the road and putting them in the lead in the self-driving race.
Their partnership also shows their ability to successfully work with others and blaze the trail to the future demonstrating solid backing for their plans.
While technology marches forward, the common person’s reality is that they still have to drive themselves, and they still need auto insurance. Compare quotes right here by entering your zip code below.