Earlier this year, Waymo announced that it was opening a Michigan factory to retrofit Chrysler Pacificas and Jaguar I-Paces with self-driving tech. The Alphabet division has now selected a factory in Detroit and is planning to make it operational by mid-2019.

Following the January announcement, an existing facility in southeast Michigan has been selected to be repurposed as “the world’s first factory 100% dedicated to the mass production of L4 autonomous vehicles.” Partnering with American Axle & Manufacturing, Waymo is “bringing a workforce back to an area where jobs in the automotive industry were recently lost.”

Additionally, thanks to our wonderful neighbors at American Axle & Manufacturing and Bedrock for helping Waymo find the perfect home in Motor City. We’re thrilled to join Detroit’s vibrant community, helping to play a role in the future of the automotive industry in the city that started it all.

For the Alphabet company, Motor City offers a “strong pool of talent across engineering, operations, and fleet coordination.” It allows them to get the facility online by mid-2019, with the “flexibility to continue to grow and expand our operations in Michigan over time.” The plant will create at least 100 jobs, with expansion possibly leading to 400 more positions.

This facility will integrate self-driving systems — like LIDAR, cameras, and radar, as well as screens for passengers — into the Chrysler Pacifica, Jaguar I-Pace, and other future vehicles. It comes as Waymo One begins to ramp up in Phoenix, Arizona.

Waymo in 2018 ordered thousands of electric minivans from Fiat Chrysler, and quickly brought up that total to 62,000 Pacificas in May. It has a partnership with Jaguar on the all-electric I-Pace, with testing already underway and 20,000 vehicles planned over the coming years.

“More and more Silicon Valley companies are looking to grow in Michigan as they realize the competitive advantages Michigan has to offer: high-tech engineering resources, top-notch research and design, and a highly skilled workforce matched with a low cost of living and low cost of doing business. We are pleased to welcome Waymo to Detroit and look forward to working with the company as it moves forward and brings jobs to Michigan residents.” — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Elon Musk criticizes LIDAR & HD mapping from Waymo, self-driving competitors

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com