Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Science | By Cecil Little

Avis to manage Waymo's self-driving cars

Avis to manage Waymo's self-driving cars

To help with their testing, Waymo has now joined up with an unlikely partner.

Avis is teaming up with Waymo on a self-driving auto program.

Waymo will pay Avis for its service, according to the report, but the companies would not share financial terms.

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Waymo chief executive officer John Krafcik, whose career includes time as Hyundai Motor America president and chief executive officer as well as the president of TrueCar, elaborated about the new relationship with Avis Budget Group.

Avis, which also owns the rental-car service Zipcar, said that under the multiyear agreement, it is modifying some rental-car locations to park Waymo's vehicles and service them, including oil changes, tire rotations and cleaning.

For both companies, the move has clear upsides.

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Waymo has 100 Chrysler Pacifica self-driving minivans and has ordered another 500 of the vans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which Waymo equips with computers and sensors to make them self-driving. Down the road, Waymo potentially could draw from the Avis Group's existing network of facilities and customers.

The collaboration is created to support Waymo's growing autonomous vehicle (AV) fleet and Waymo's early rider program, a public trial of its self-driving cars in Phoenix. Even with today's rally, Avis has declined 45 percent during the past three years, partly because of the threat that ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft pose to traditional car-rental companies. Waymo is also collaborating with Lyft to bring self-driving cars into the mainstream. In April, Waymo began offering free rides to Phoenix residents as part of a pilot program.

The move also underscores the importance of autonomous driving technology for companies like Waymo. The long-running case is still making its way through the courts, and Uber terminated Levandowski's employment earlier this year.

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