Waymo's Detroit Plant Helping With Autonomous Car Production

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【Summary】Detroit may be home to the three largest American automakers, but Waymo has plans to make the city a hub for the production of autonomous cars.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Nov 03, 2019 6:00 AM PT
Waymo's Detroit Plant Helping With Autonomous Car Production

Detroit is a city that's known for being the location of a few of America's most iconic automakers: Ford, Chevrolet, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. But Detroit is an important city for another reason, the production of autonomous vehicles. The city with deep roots in the auto industry is now producing self-driving cars thanks to Waymo, ensuring that it will stay relevant when the next generation of cars become more popular.

Waymo Begins Production Of Autonomous Cars
According to The Detroit News, the CEO of Waymo, John Krafcik, stated that the company's Detroit plant is currently in the process of outfitting vehicles with the necessary software and hardware to drive autonomously. Getting the company's plant up and running is a major step for Waymo as it puts it one step closer to having a large fleet of self-driving cars.      
"We've just opened the world's first dedicated autonomous plant," said Krafcik in an interview with the outlet at Forbes Under 30 Summit at the Masonic Temple. "We call it a factory."
Earlier this April, Waymo stated that it would begin leasing and repurposing a plant that was previously used by American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. The plant is located in the company's Detroit headquarters that border Hamtramck. To do that, Waymo spent approximately $14 million. A large amount of money, yes, but well worth it, as Waymo is now in the heart of the site of manufacturing in the United States. It's even closer to where the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans that it uses are built – at the Windsor Assembly Plant.  
The massive facility, which has up to 200,000 square feet of space, is primarily focusing on fitting its tech onto its Jaguar I-Pace SUVs. The company is getting some help from Canadian auto supplier Magna International. So far, the plant has gone through 30 SUVs that are now testing in California.

Production For Robotaxi Service
Eventually, Waymo hopes to have hundreds of vehicles leave the plant. The majority of cars that come out of the Detroit plant will be used for Waymo's autonomous taxi service called Waymo One. The service is operational in Phoenix to a limited number of customers and started back in December.
Waymo isn't the only one in Detroit that's looking at producing electric vehicles in the city. The ride-sharing company will face tight competition from traditional brands. General Motors has plans to invest $3 billion into saving the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant that will be used to manufacture all sorts of electric products.
On the east side of Detroit, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is investing $1.6 billion into a new assembly plant that will build plug-in hybrid and an upcoming EV among other things. Lastly, Ford has a massive Corktown campus that will become the star child of its electric and autonomous projects.
Clearly, Waymo's surrounded by competition. If anything, the company has gone straight into its competition home base and set up camp. If Waymo manages to get production of its autonomous vehicles up and running in a timely manner, it will be quite the upset for traditional American automakers.

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