Waymo Retiring Self-Driving Chrysler Vans, Replacing Them With Way Mo’ Electric Jaguars
Google’s self-driving division Waymo is moving on from its now iconic white Chrysler Pacifica-based robotaxi vans, finally taking advantage of a deal worked out all the way back in 2018 for custom-built Jaguar I-Pace all-electric SUVs. The deal originally called for up to 20,000 self-driving EVs from the British automaker, and the updated vehicles will get a new generation of self-driving hardware and software.
The Pacifica fleet included plug-in hybrid models, but Waymo believes electric vehicles will play a central role in its business model that now prioritizes limiting emissions to align with the recent White House EV Acceleration Challenge for U.S. organizations to adopt EVs over their internal combustion alternatives for fleet use. The I-Pace offers around-the-clock zero-emission commuting for customers: “Electric vehicles like the I-Pace generate less carbon emissions than their gas counterparts, but with the average vehicle in the U.S. parked 95 percent of the time, their full benefits are often unrealized,” Waymo published in an update online.
The goal is not just replacing Waymo’s fleet with EVs, but then replacing the masses of privately-owned, arguably wasteful vehicles in a community with a robotaxi fleet that’s far more efficient in its use of the vehicle over time: “We believe that autonomous EVs efficiently driven around the clock can maximize those environmental benefits with a significantly higher vehicle utilization. Taking it a step further, our EV fleet is matched with 100% renewable energy, which enables us to provide a zero-emission ride-hailing service to our customers.”
The loss of the Pacifica also retires Waymo’s fourth-generation hardware and software stack. The new fleet of Jaguar I-Pace SUVs with the fifth-generation “Waymo driver” suite of self-driving technology will return to the cities of Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa in Arizona, where the company has been testing its fleet in fairly clear weather for years. The move will make the entire Waymo One ride-hailing fleet fully electric and zero emission. Waymo also briefly mentioned its shift to EVs previews its upcoming Zeekr mobility platform that is in development, another all-electric vehicle that is being purpose-built for ride-hailing robotaxi use in the future.
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