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Waymo taps Avis Budget Group to manage self-driving minivans

Roadshow logoRoadshow 6/26/2017 Andrew Krok
"No, sir, I keep telling you -- upgrading to the large-vehicle class does not mean you get to rent a self-driving Pacifica."© Waymo "No, sir, I keep telling you -- upgrading to the large-vehicle class does not mean you get to rent a self-driving Pacifica."

Both developing and maintaining a fleet of self-driving vehicles is a Herculean feat, which is why Waymo is going to let another company take care of the maintenance.

Research

Waymo inked a deal with Avis Budget Group on Monday, wherein the car-rental group will be responsible for supporting, servicing and maintaining Waymo's fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Financial terms have not been announced, but the non-exclusive agreement is set to last multiple years.

In the first deal of its kind, Waymo's fleet of Pacificas will be stored and serviced at various Avis Car Rental and Budget Car Rental locations around Phoenix, which also plays host to Waymo's first-of-its-kind public pilot program. The services on offer include cleaning, oil changes, tire rotations and parts installation.

The facilities will be retrofitted to accommodate the Waymo fleet specifically. The car-rental titan will not be responsible for the fleet's unique hardware, such as its lidar sensors and cameras.

"Avis Budget Group is an ideal partner to provide fleet support and maintenance," said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, in a statement. "With thousands of locations around the world, Avis Budget Group can help us bring our technology to more people, in more places."

"Not only does this partnership enable us to leverage our current capabilities and assets, but it also allows us to accelerate our knowledge and hands-on experience in an emerging area as Waymo-enabled self-driving cars become available in the marketplace." said Larry De Shon, CEO of Avis Budget Group, in the same statement.

Part of the reason for this partnership is the increased stresses these self-driving vehicles will experience. These cars do not have single owners, so many will be driving around almost constantly, which drastically increases wear and tear compared to single-owner vehicles. Keeping up with maintenance will be a full-time job in itself, thus Waymo is smart to outsource that part of its fleet support.

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