There’s a race to full self-driving vehicles, and along the way also a competition for who has the best driver-assist systems. The latter is more or less important depending on who you believe as to when normal consumers will be able to buy truly self-driving vehicles (with the spectrum ranging from next year to never).
There are a few names that routinely come up when it comes to self-driving vehicles and driver-assist suites — Waymo, Tesla, Mobileye/Intel, and Nvidia pop to mind for me.
Waymo recently had another announcement regarding a big automotive partnership, and it made me want to dig into Waymo’s current partnerships and partnership history a bit more. Let’s get into it.
The recent news concerns Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). The “L4 Waymo Driver” suite will be used across FCA’s product portfolio, starting in FCA’s Ram ProMaster light commercial vehicle, which is used by various businesses for transporting goods.
Waymo is now FCA’s exclusive, strategic partner for L4 autonomous technology. Though, this isn’t the most shocking news, since they’ve been partners for a long time (since 2016). Hence all the Waymo Chrysler minivans.
In June, Volvo Car Group and Waymo teamed up. That means that Volvo, Polestar, and Lynk & Co. are all now exclusively partnering with Waymo on the self-driving side of things as well.
Magna is not an auto brand, but it makes vehicles for several automakers. Some of those vehicles include the Jaguar I-PACE and the aforementioned Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. Waymo and Magna work together on the production of these vehicles, and maybe will work on models for other brands down the road.
In June 2019, Renault and Nissan announced a partnership with Waymo in which Groupe Renault and Nissan would “become the first automotive manufacturers to explore driverless mobility services with Waymo in France and Japan.” It’s an exclusive partnership and it concerns driverless delivery of both people and goods. [Update: this paragraph was added a day after publishing.]
So, the list isn’t actually that long, but Waymo has been on a roll with announcements in 2020, so we’ll see if more don’t pop into the news stream before the end of the year. My bet would be that more are coming.
I’ll next dive into Mobileye/Intel and Nvidia to see how their partnerships compare. Of course, Tesla partners with Tesla. While there is a push for others — like Mercedes and BMW — to form some partnerships with Tesla, I think that’s unlikely. But we’ll see.