Waymo turns its attention towards Europe

  • Tech News
  • Wednesday, 13 Jun 2018

Waymo driverless Chrysler Pacifica on the road. — Waymo

Waymo driverless Chrysler Pacifica on the road. — Waymo

Waymo might not mean much to consumers in Europe at the moment, but it might not be too long until it becomes almost as familiar as the likes of Uber on that side of the Atlantic. 

The autonomous driving arm of Alphabet is now looking beyond its American base to expand into Europe to potentially offer some type of driverless mobility service in cooperation with a local partner. 

Company CEO John Krafcik, said at the annual Automotive News Europe Congress in Turin that it was possible Waymo might have to adopt a “very different approach” in Europe. And to better understand some of key differences the company will have to consider in areas such as regulatory and policy environments, Waymo has been spending a lot more time in Europe of late. 

Krafcik told the audience: “There's an opportunity for us at Waymo to experiment here in Europe, with different product forms, with different products and maybe even with different go-to-market strategies. For the first time, we brought Waymo technology to Europe and demonstrated true Level 4, no-humans-in-the-front-row, fully autonomous, no-safety-net driving right here in Italy.” 

Although Waymo will shortly be operating mobility services under its own branding in Phoenix, Arizona and the San Francisco Bay area, the company believes it will be better for it to seek out a partner to help establish its services in European markets. 

“It's probably fair to say that the Waymo brand wouldn't be as strong as some other existing incumbent brands that are already strong in Europe, so that's one potentially different go to market approach,” said Krafcik. 

The company already has strategic partnerships in Europe with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Jaguar Land Rover. At the moment FCA provides Waymo with Pacifica minivans and the company has a contract to embed its software in the new fully electric Jaguar i-Pace. 

Waymo's focus is on ride-sharing, with the eventual goal of consumers around the world being able to order up a vehicle to take them to their destination in a very similar way to how millions use Uber at the moment. The difference is Waymo vehicles will be autonomous and come without a driver, and the CEO recently confirmed the company has already completed seven million miles of fully autonomous driving logged on public roads. — AFP Relaxnews