Back in April, Waymo expanded its trial of self-driving Chrysler Pacificas to all residents of Phoenix, Arizona. With 100 cars already in the fleet, it also announced 500 additional minivans for the public test. The Alphabet company has today revealed an agreement that will see Avis Car Rental managing those autonomous vehicles.
Not only will this deal see Avis locations in Phoenix storing the Pacifica minivans, but the car rental service will also provide service. This basic maintenance includes cleaning, oil changes, and tire rotations.
A Bloomberg article notes that Avis will not be responsible for managing LIDAR sensors and other specialized components, with Waymo ultimately still maintaining ownership of the vehicles. Avis will retrofit certain facilities in Phoenix with tents to shelter the cars from the elements, but the rental company will not purchase any new land.
No financial terms were revealed, though the arrangement is not exclusive and allows Waymo to partner with others. However, Waymo CEO John Krafcik did note Avis’ ownership of on-demand rental service Zipcar as a benefit.
He hinted that the partnership is possibly open to one day having Waymo vehicles populate the Zipcar fleet. This is significant as it provides the Alphabet company with an already established infrastructure to compete with the likes of Uber.
As is, this deal takes care of logistic issues, like storage and maintenance, for Waymo, so that it can focus on technical expansion. It will go into effect later this year.
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