If carmakers aren’t careful, Waymo just might be the only name in autonomous vehicles. The former Google self-driving car project is quickly spreading throughout the industry by partnering with traditional car manufacturers.
- Renault-Nissan and Waymo announced a partnership to create mobility service companies in France and Japan.
- The mobility companies will focus on moving people and goods. The trio will work together to overcome local legislative and regulatory hurdles.
- The agreement may eventually expand to other countries. However, China is excluded from future plans.
Renault–Nissan and Waymo announced this week that they’ve signed an agreement to work together to create mobility service companies in France and Japan. The trio will work to access the viability of the commercialized automated mobility business.
Furthermore, the respective brands will help traverse legal and regulatory issues in the respective countries that might inhibit such services. However, no vehicles will be included in the deal — simply business development logistics.
The agreement between Waymo and Renault-Nissan may expand to other countries in the future. Neither company would give a timeline of such an expansion. However, they did stipulate that China would not be included in any future mobility growth. No rationale was given for excluding China from the deal.
“This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global stage, with an innovative partner,” said John Krafcik, Waymo’s Chief Executive Officer, said in a prepared statement. “With the Alliance’s international reach and scale, our Waymo Driver can deliver transformational mobility solutions to safely serve riders and commercial deliveries in France, Japan, and other countries.”
Although Renault-Nissan’s plan to create these mobility companies and help share the burden of weighing their viability with Waymo, the carmakers aren’t necessarily married to the idea of expanding hand-in-hand with Waymo. At least, that’s what Hadi Zablit, Renault-Nissan’s senior vice president for business development, indicated to reporters in Paris.
This isn’t the first such agreement Waymo has penned with a carmaker. It currently has active deals with Fiat-Chrysler, Jaguar Land Rover, and Lyft, among others. And it seems to find interesting ways to combine the partnerships its forged. For example, Waymo is preparing to launch 10 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans into the Lyft fleet, which will be able to be hailed by the public.
Waymo, an offshoot of Google, has clocked more than 10 million miles of automated driving on public roads. At the rate its going with its R&D and broad partnerships, it could soon become the leader in self-driving tech. I mean, that is its aim. But are brands really ready to let that happen?
If carmakers are afraid of becoming coach builders for tech and ride-hailing companies, and would rather control the mobility market themselves, they ought to reconsider signing on the line with just a few automated driving tech brands at every chance they get.
“We believe this partnership will accelerate our commitment to deliver new shared mobility services and benefit the automobile ecosystems by placing us at the forefront of driverless mobility new business streams in our key strategic markets.”