Waymo is racking up partners.
On Thursday, Alphabet’s self-driving unit announced that it would join with the Renault-Nissan Alliance to “explore all aspects of driverless mobility services for passengers and deliveries in France and Japan,” according to a statement.
Waymo has already joined with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, to obtain a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans to use for an autonomous ride-hailing service. The company has also joined with Jaguar Land Rover to use the Jaguar I-Pace as a self-driving luxury platform.
“This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global stage, with an innovative partner,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a statement
“With the Alliance’s international reach and scale, our Waymo Driver can deliver transformational mobility solutions to safely serve riders and commercial deliveries in France, Japan, and other countries.”
The “Driver” that Krafcik referred to is the combination of hardware and software that powers Waymo’s self-driving technology. The company has said that it could be used in a wide range of vehicles, providing passenger mobility, freight services, and access to mass transit.
Waymo could be at the head of the self-driving pack
“We believe this partnership [place] us at the forefront of driverless mobility new business streams in our key strategic markets,” Renault CEO Thierry Bolloré said.
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa added, “Our expertise in the global automotive industry and expertise in strategic partnership will enable us to explore opportunities to grow our portfolio and deliver new value to customers with Waymo, the recognized leader in this space.”
Waymo and Cruise, overseen by General Motors, are widely seen headed the pack in the race to bring self-driving businesses to market. Waymo started life as the Google Car project in 2009 and had amasses millions of experimental miles before commencing a commercial rollout in Arizona late last year, under the “Waymo One” brand.
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has been roiled since then-Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested last Noveember in Japan, on allegations of financial malfeasance; he is currently awaiting trial. The announcement of a partnership with Waymo, however, showed more of a unified front.
Earlier in June, Renault and Nissan abandoned a plan to execute a 50-50 merger that would have created the third largest automaker in the world, behind Toyota and the Volkswagen Group. The merger did not involve Nissan and threw the future of the alliance into doubt.