Waymo, a division of Google-parent company Alphabet, increased the size of its self-driving taxi fleet more than 100-fold with the order of 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans from FCA last week.
FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has made a “very strategic decision that FCA wants to be a supplier and dealer in the autonomous vehicle industry and not a competitor,” Grayson Brulte, a consultant and co-founder of Brulte & Co., told AFN. “He’s carving out a very valuable niche for FCA as we go deeper into autonomy.”
With more than $100 billion of cash on Alphabet’s balance sheet, Waymo is a “formidable competitor” that should act as “a wakeup call for the industry as a whole,” Brulte said. Specifically, traditional automators with “build it yourself ” processes should be the ones most concerned, as Waymo has proven to be savvy in cutting deals that benefit both sides, he added. Waymo is the only company with a fleet of fully self-driving cars, with no one in the driver seat, on public roads.
The company is set to launch the world’s first self-driving transportation service later this year — allowing the public to use an app to request a vehicle.