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Waymo Looks to Expand Globally With Renault-Nissan Partnership

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【Summary】Waymo may be a leader in the U.S. for its autonomous program, but the subsidiary of Alphabet is looking for global dominance with a new partnership with Renault and Nissan.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jun 22, 2019 7:00 AM PT
Waymo Looks to Expand Globally With Renault-Nissan Partnership

In terms of autonomous programs, Waymo is a juggernaut. Alphabet's subsidiary leads every other autonomous company in terms of miles – as it hit a landmark 8 million miles of public road testing last July – but it's also the company with the fewest disengagements in California . From December 2017 to November 2018, Waymo's self-driving cars traveled approximately 30,000 miles and had less than five disengagements. While there's a lot more to Waymo's success, in the United States, the company is looking to expand.

Waymo Wants To Spread

In a report, Wired claims that Waymo has signed an agreement that would see the autonomous company work with Renault and Nissan on driverless technology. The companies see the partnership as a "first step," but there are no current plans to launch Waymo's self-driving cars to France (Renault's stomping grounds) or Japan (where Nissan is headquartered). For the time being, the trio will "research commercial, legal and regulatory issues related to driverless transportation-as-a-service offerings in France and Japan," states the outlet.

In a statement, Waymo CEO John Krafcik sees the partnership as a way to expand to other parts of the world. "This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global scale, with an innovative partner," stated Krafcik in a statement. "With the Alliance's international reach and scale, our Waymo Driver can deliver transformational mobility solutions to safely serve riders and commercial deliveries in France, Japan, and other countries."

The partnership would combine the best qualities of the brands. Waymo would, of course, bring its tech expertise and autonomous know how. Renault and Nissan have the manufacturing side of things down pat, and are both well versed in the laws of their respective countries. Nissan is also working on autonomous vehicles via its ProPilot system . For consumers in the U.S., ProPilot Assist is offered on the Nissan Leaf and Rogue.

Why Renault-Nissan Partnership Works

The decision to announce a massive partnership with Waymo comes at an interesting time for Renault and Nissan. The automotive brand was rumored to be in merger discussions with FCA . The merger would've helped the companies come out with autonomous vehicles and electric cars, but discussions fizzled. Instead of looking to FCA, which doesn't really have an autonomous program or a lot of electric vehicles, Renault and Nissan have gone straight to the top with Waymo. From our perspective, it looks like choosing to not merge with FCA worked in Renault and Nissan's favor.

Whether Waymo switches over to Renault or Nissan's cars, as the company currently uses Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids, is a mystery. Also, Waymo has plans to use Lyft's expansive network for autonomous rides in the future. Whether that will remain the case with the new partnership with Renault and Nissan is up in the air, as well. 

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