Waymo marks 7 million self-driven miles with talks of European expansion
Waymo is still chugging along with plans to offer a truly driverless car service in the Phoenix, Arizona, area by the end of this year — but it’s also moving its self-driving sights to Europe.
At the Automotive News Europe Congress in Turin, Italy, earlier this week, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said, “There is an opportunity for us at Waymo to experiment here in Europe, with different products and maybe even with different go-to-market strategies,” as Reuters noted
Krafcik floated this idea a few days after Waymo demoed its Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities at Fiat Chrysler’s Balocco Proving Ground in northern Italy. For the first time, a car drove itself outside the U.S. with no one in the driver’s seat.
At the Turin event, the CEO brought up the idea of possible partnerships in the market after crediting his European counterparts for advancing self-driving tech. “It’s probably safe to say the Waymo brand wouldn’t be as strong as some other existing incumbent brands that are already strong in Europe,” Krafcik said.
The Alphabet-owned self-driving car company also hit 7 million miles of self-driving this week. That’s miles ahead of the competition, including GM’s Cruise. Uber was at around 2 million miles before it suspended its self-driving program in the wake of a fatal crash.
The Europe comment doesn’t mean Waymo is moving on from its U.S. plans.
Last week the company announced it was adding 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to its fleet by the end of this year. That’s a lot of self-driving Waymos. The minivans are already in use in Arizona.
Before that announcement, Waymo said it would work with Jaguar’s electric I-Pace SUV, adding 20,000 of those vehicles.
Waymo is also looking into selling its self-driving technology directly to customers in Fiat Chrysler vehicles. But that’s just in early talks.
Those are some big numbers and ambitions coming out of Waymo. We’re watching to see what happens.