Waymo has entered into an exclusive partnership with Renault and Nissan on behalf of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to explore driverless mobility services for passengers and deliveries in France and Japan.
By teaming up with Renault and Nissan initially to research commercial, legal, and regulatory issues related to transportation-as-a-service in France and Japan, Waymo is on the path to creating long-term driverless solutions hand-in-hand with the world’s largest automaker.
“This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global stage, with an innovative partner. 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.," said Waymo CEO John Krafcik.
The agreement marks the first step of Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving vehicle unit to develop long-term, profitable driverless mobility services operations. This analysis will first take place in France and Japan, home to Groupe Renault and Nissan headquarters, respectively, and may expand to other markets, excluding China, in the future.
To further the exploration process, Groupe Renault and Nissan will create joint venture Alliance-focused companies in France and Japan dedicated to driverless mobility services.
In Japan, a potential competitor to a Renault-Nissan-Waymo venture would be Monet Technologies, a self-driving project involving Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co and backed by SoftBank Group Corp. SoftBank and Honda also have invested in General Motors Co’s Cruise self-driving car unit.
Waymo is already partnering with Fiat Chrysler (FCA), Jaguar Land Rover, Lyft, Avis and AutoNation.
FCA also agreed in early June to partner with Aurora, the Silicon Valley startup co-founded by former Waymo chief Chris Urmson and funded in part by South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co.
The announcement comes amid reports relations between Renault and Nissan are fraying in the aftermath of former Alliance Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s arrest in Tokyo for alleged financial misconduct. It also comes as competing self-driving partnerships emerge between General Motors’ Cruise unit and Honda, and Ford and Volkswagen negotiate a tech alliance.