Waymo currently transports a select number of residents in Arizona using some of its Fiat Chrysler minivans as part of the company's Early Rider program. Google's autonomous car spin-off will soon expand its fleet of FCA minivans after striking a deal with the U.K.-based automaker to purchase thousands of more Chrysler Pacifica units.
It's not immediately known exactly how many autonomous minivans Waymo is buying from FCA, nor is it clear how much the autonomous car development company is paying to FCA for the deal. However, the current suggested retail price for a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan might offer a good idea in terms of the price: the latest model costs $43,695. It's possible, therefore, that Waymo could be paying north of $43 million for the purchase of thousands of Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
FCA and Waymo kicked off their partnership in May 2016, after which the first batch of 100 minivans was shipped to the Google-owned company. Last year, FCA supplied an additional 500 minivans to Waymo. The company equips the FCA-built luxury vehicles with hardware and software solutions for autonomous driving. It's worth noting that the Chrysler Pacifica minivans were the first set of vehicles to include Waymo's proprietary self-driving system, although the company has been road-testing a number of autonomous Lexus SUVs in more recent times.
Then Waymo began testing its Chrysler driverless minivans on the public roads of Mountain View, California and Phoenix, Arizona early last year after unveiling the model in December 2016. Late last year, several journalists were also given the chance to ride around in Waymo's automated cars in California.
It remains to be seen what Waymo plans to do with the additional Chrysler Pacifica minivans set for delivery by the end of this year, but the company previously announced that it will offer rides to in its fully autonomous minivans in the next few months as part of its Early Rider program.
Source: The Verge