May 22, 2018

Here's Your Early Look at Waymo's Next Self-Driving Car: The Jaguar I-Pace

Author : Kirsten Korosec / Publisher: FORTUNE

The next self-driving vehicle in Waymo's fleet will be the new all-electric I-Pace crossover sport utility produced by Jaguar Land Rover.

Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet, announced the strategic partnership with Jaguar Land Rover Tuesday ahead of the New York Auto Show. Waymo CEO John Krafick said the company will start testing a self-driving version of the I-Pace this year.

The electric SUV will become part of Waymo's driverless fleet beginning in 2020. Ultimately, up to 20,000 modified I-Pace vehicles will join Waymo's soon-to-be-launched driverless ride-hailing service in the first two years of operation, the companies said. With this many self-driving I-Pace vehicles, Waymo will theoretically be able to provide 1 million driverless trips a day, Krafick said.

The partnership is a boon for JLR, which has essentially locked in at least one customer (and one large order) for its first all-electric vehicle. Jaguar unveiled the 2019 I-Pace -- this one without a self-driving system and built for people to drive--on March 2 ahead of the International Geneva Motor Show. The I-Pace will start at $69,500 in the U.S. market, a base cost that puts it $10,000 below the standard Tesla Model X. The vehicle is manufactured by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria.

The Waymo Jaguar I-Pace, which is being shown at the New York International Auto Show, will be fitted with self-driving technology.

The announcement comes a little more than week after a fatal accident involving a self-driving Uber forced the nascent industry -- which is still in its earliest stages of development -- as well as city, state, and federal lawmakers to consider whether the balance between innovation and safety had tipped to the wrong side. On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey suspended Uber from testing its self-driving cars in Arizona.

For more on Uber's recent self-driving car accident, watch Fortune's video:

The Waymo-Jaguar partnership is similar to the autonomous vehicle startup's relationship with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which supplied the tech company with its Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.

In January, Fiat Chrysler said it will supply Waymo with "thousands" of modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans as the startup prepares to launch a self-driving taxi service. FCA will begin delivering the vehicles equipped with Waymo's suite of self-driving hardware and software in late 2018.

Waymo recently started shuttling a group of vetted "early riders" in self-driving minivans without a human test driver behind the wheel. It's a watershed moment for a company that has been working toward this goal for nearly a decade. The deal with Jaguar Land Rover suggests Waymo is accelerating its plan to not just launch, but dominate in the emerging driverless vehicle industry.

This article was written by Kirsten Korosec from FORTUNE and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.