Waymo to launch self-driving car service within two months

Some of Waymo's biggest customers are expected to be other businesses, including Walmart and Avis, that want to provide rides for their own customers.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Waymo, the Alphabet-owned autonomous car company, plans to launch its first commercial self-driving car service within two months, Waymo's chief executive said Tuesday. When the service does launch, some of its biggest customers are expected to be other businesses that want to provide rides for their own customers.

Since Waymo launched its Early Rider pilot program in Chandler, Arizona last year, a number of businesses including Walmart, Avis Budget Group and AutoNation have expressed interest in the self-driving car service, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal's WSJ Tech D.Live conference.

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"This is a whole other channel of demand we really hadn't thought deeply about that could end up being a really significant driver of business," he said.

Waymo's initial business will be limited to the Phoenix area, Krafcik said.

Meanwhile, he added, Waymo's commercial trucking business should add "a material contribution to the world... over the next couple of years."

Waymo, which started as a Google project in 2009 before spinning off into its own company in 2016, could be on a $1 billion revenue run rate before 2020 and hit $10 billion a bit after 2025, according to an Evercore ISI analysis. With the heft of Google's parent company behind it, Waymo is expected to undercut ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, which are developing their own self-driving services.

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While autonomous vehicles are expected to usher in the next iteration of transportation-as-a-service, the trucking industry is also primed for early adoption of autonomous technology.

In preparation for its new services, Waymo has forged partnerships with multiple companies in both the transportation and technology sectors. In March, the company announced it's partnering with Jaguar Land Rover to incorporate the automaker's new self-driving Jaguar I-PACE vehicle into its autonomous driving fleet. Then in April, Waymo said it would work with Honda to use its self-driving technology in a new delivery-focused product. In May, Waymo and Fiat Chrysler announced they're expanding their partnership to add as many as 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo's self-driving fleet.

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