June 28, 2018
Waymo executives and other employees have been spending more time in Europe recently. Their goal is to better understand the key differences between American and European regulatory and policy environment.
On June 7, 2018, the world found out why at the annual Automotive News Europe Congress. Here, the head of Alphabet’s autonomous driving unit relayed that its approach in Europe would be very different than in the United States. Waymo desires to offer a mobility service with a fully driverless car fleet by partnering with a local company.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik told Congress participants in Turin that there is an opportunity for Waymo to experiment in the European market with different product forms, different products, and perhaps even with different go-to-market strategies.
Waymo stands alone with its mobility services that are soon to be released in Phoenix, Arizona and in the San Francisco Bay area, however, Krafcik went on to say that for multiple reasons a partner would likely be needed to help the company in its endeavors in Europe.
Part of his reasoning stems from the humble fact that Waymo would likely not be as strong as other incumbent brands that are already in the European market. They would need a different approach here in order to gain ground and be successful. Teaming with a company already in Europe would help Waymo to get established.
Luckily for Waymo, they already have European partners in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover. Plans are in the works for Waymo to provide Chrysler Pacifica minivans and the full-electric Jaguar I-Pace with embed software. Krafcik believes it is quite possible that Waymo would strengthen its ties with FCA with a partnership where they develop cars for a Waymo transportation service and working towards a personal-use licensing product.
Krafcik revealed his company’s self-driving capabilities at an FCA-hosted investor day in Balocco Proving Ground in Italy. He explained that this was the first time Waymo technology was brought to Europe and revealed true Level 4, no humans in the front row, and completely autonomous driving capabilities.
Jaguar might be one company who is ahead in this European race to partner with Waymo as it was chosen to supply I-Pace electric vehicles for their branded fleet in both Phoenix and San Francesco. Krafcik said Waymo’s high-powered electrical systems lend to the company getting to 100 percent BEV fleet as soon as possible.
In addition to the European expansion announcement, it was also revealed that Waymo vehicles had recently surpassed the 7-million mile mark for fully autonomous driving logged on public roadways. Krafcik finished by saying that self-driving cars are no longer coming soon; they are here today, in Phoenix without anyone in the driver's seat but highly developed software.