Technology companies in Silicon Valley have often been told they couldn’t do certain things or their ideas were insane. Time and again these geniuses of technology have proven to us they can actually get things done and know exactly how to bring new products and new ways of doing things to the market. Because of the ability that’s been shown from the hub of the technology world, it makes perfect sense that a tech giant and a car company would get together to create vehicles that have the most advanced technology and equipment available.
In the race to have autonomous vehicles on the road the partnership between Waymo and FCA seems to make the most sense. Waymo, which is now the automotive part of Google under the Alphabet name, partnered with FCA to put autonomous technology into 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans. As these vans prepare to head out on the road later this month, news from Waymo has informed us they intend to have 100 more that will be ready to ride and fitted with the tech needed for the next phase of the world; autonomous driving in a minivan form.
As excited as Waymo and FCA are about this partnership and what it may bring, the fact the vehicles are about to head out on the road and hopefully will be successful is a collective thumbing of the nose by Google at the rest of the auto market. Google wanted to cut deals with several companies as partners in this technology but FCA was the first to agree and move forward. Whether the rest of the auto market was taken aback by the fact that Google was trying to develop their own autonomous vehicle at the time or they felt they could develop the technology on their own is unclear, but what is clear is the fact this partnership is growing.
What will Waymo do with the autonomous Pacifica minivans? With pressure from Alphabet to create at least a stream of revenue for the company the expectation is these vans will be part of a new ride sharing program that will offer driverless rides in the areas served by these vehicles. Currently Alphabet receives most of its revenue from digital advertising but a recurring revenue stream from these vehicles could be the right way for Waymo to use these minivans during this first wave and the next.
What happens when the driver is taken out of the equation? While it’s still a ways off and will need to meet with the approval of the areas the vehicles will service, these driverless vehicles could reduce the cost of a ride sharing fare from the $1.50 per mile that’s currently charged to as little as twenty cents per mile. This is because of the lack of a human driver and the lower insurance rates that would be included on these vehicles. If this is successful, the Pacifica minivans used could pay for themselves in only five years.
Google should be excited by what Waymo is on the verge of doing. Adding driverless ride sharing vehicles to some markets will make a huge difference in what the future will be for the automotive industry. Having this project show up as a successful and profitable venture may show other automakers they need to partner with tech companies instead of attempting to develop the tech themselves. As these vans hit the road, we’ll get to see exactly what they bring to the market for us to enjoy the ride and hopefully have the least expensive ride sharing on the market today.
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