Waymo Buys More Chrysler Pacificas
- May order up to 62,000 units
- Waymo-Chrysler partnership expands
- Adds to existing fleet of 600 Pacificas
- Autonomous minivans may be sold to public
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. is in talks with Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car company, about using Waymo’s autonomous driving technology in Fiat Chrysler vehicles sold to retail customers. The automaker’s U.S. arm FCA US LLC also will provide up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the Silicon Valley company’s growing autonomous vehicle fleet, beginning late this year.
The news is an expansion of a partnership between the two companies that earlier in 2018 called for Fiat Chrysler to provide thousands of vehicles for Waymo’s forthcoming driverless ride-hailing service. That service is set to roll out later this year in the U.S. Riders will be able to request a robotaxi using Waymo’s smartphone app.
Fiat Chrysler provided few details on its talks to use Waymo self-driving hardware and software suite in its vehicles, but said it could be done through a licensing deal. It’s unknown how soon the autonomous vehicle technology could make its way into Fiat Chrysler vehicles available for the public to buy.
“FCA is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic,” Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler’s CEO, said in a statement. “Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront.” Fiat Chrysler and Waymo have been partners since May 2016. Initially, Fiat Chrysler provided Waymo with 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, modified for self-driving, and last year delivered another 500.
Earlier this year, Waymo announced it would add 20,000 fully self-driving premium Jaguar I-PACE electric cars to use as part of its self-driving transportation service.
Since fall 2017, Waymo has been testing some fully autonomous vehicles without a human safety driver on public roads—the first company to do so. It’s even had some members of the public ride in the self-driving Pacifica Hybrid minivans sans driver through Waymo’s Early Rider program in the Phoenix, Arizona, area.
“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,” John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, said in a statement. “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.”
Formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo since 2009 has racked up more than 6 million miles of autonomous driving on public roads.