Waymo's Self-Driving Jaguar I-Pace Will Finally Hit Public Roads

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【Summary】After a year since announcing the partnership between the two, Waymo’s smart Jaguars will hit public roads close to Waymo’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jul 27, 2019 8:00 AM PT
Waymo's Self-Driving Jaguar I-Pace Will Finally Hit Public Roads

Last May, Jaguar and Waymo announced a major deal. Jaguar Land Rover would provide Alphabet's autonomous arm with thousands of electric I-Pace SUVs . The electric Jaguars were supposed to begin public testing at the end of 2018 before being officially introduced into Waymo's commercial ride-hailing service in 2020. While Waymo took delivery of a few I-Pace SUVs in July 2018 to use around San Francisco, the company has finally begun testing fully-decked out variants of the electric vehicle on public roads.

Waymo's Jaguars Coming To Mountain View

According to TechCrunch, Waymo has started to test the I-Pace SUVs around its headquarters in Mountain View, California. Apparently, someone spotted an autonomous I-Pace with a plethora of heavy-duty equipment testing in the area with a safety driver behind the wheel. Waymo confirmed that public testing of the vehicle has begun to the outlet.

The I-Pace SUV swere an interesting choice for Waymo, as the brand has stuck with Chrysler Pacifica minivans for some time now. Back in March 2018, Waymo had roughly 600 Pacifica minivans in its fleet, which 
it used for various programs around the country. Those vehicles, though, were given to Waymo without any self-driving technology. The tech company outfitted the vehicles with the right hardware and software to drive on their own away from the manufacturing factory. Engineers from Jaguar and Waymo worked in tandem to bring the electric I-Paces to the road, cutting out the retrofitting process.

While Waymo's only been testing a few I-Paces on public roads, the partnership between the two companies is for a total of 20,000 electric SUVs from Jaguar to join the fleet within the first two years of operation.

Why Go With The I-Pace?

For Waymo, the decision to go with the I-Pace gave the company more options to grow. The electric SUV has a range of 234 miles from a 90 kWh battery pack. The vehicle also accepts 50 kW fast charging, which allows the SUV to get 80 percent of its charge back in 85 minutes. Those figures are comparable to other electric SUVs on the market. The I-Pace gives Waymo an all-electric option that's still versatile thanks to the SUV bodystyle, but is also a more upscale vehicle than the Pacifica. It's a way for the brand to test and introduce a luxurious option into its autonomous ride-sharing fleet.

With Waymo putting a lot of backing behind the I-Pace, it's good to see the company finally starting to test the SUV on public roads. While Waymo and Chrysler are in a lengthy partnership with the Pacifica minivan, it looks like the brand is starting to get serious about the I-Pace. So it will be interesting to see how the company manages the two vehicles in its fleet going forward.

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