Waymo CEO John Krafcik has revealed that the mobility company will need to add a “large number” of additional cars to its growing fleet of self-driving cars as it prepares to enter Europe.
In an interview with published Thursday, Krafcik explained that all announcements so far, including the purchase of 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans made in May and 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace crossovers made in March, were for Waymo’s operations in the United States.
Interestingly, Krafcik said Waymo won’t use its own brand for its European operations because of a lack of recognition, and would instead partner with an existing European car brand. He made a similar comment earlier in June, where he said Waymo might offer different products and product forms in Europe.
Here in the U.S. Waymo has promised to launch a commercial self-driving taxi service by the end of the year. The first service will be run in about 100 square miles of Phoenix, Arizona but more locations are planned. Other cities where Waymo’s testing its self-driving cars include Atlanta, San Francisco, Metro Detroit, and Kirkland, Washington.
A pilot version of the service known as the Early Riders program is already up and running in Phoenix, with around 400 members of the public taking rides in Waymo’s self-driving cars and providing feedback. Waymo’s cars still require an engineer to ride along but eventually the company will remove the engineer as well.
Other leaders in the self-driving space include General Motors, which in January unveiled a self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV devoid of a steering wheel and pedals. GM’s plan is to start running the cars on public roads in 2019. Ford is also delivering pizzas across Miami using Fusion sedans equipped with the company’s own self-driving technology, while Nissan has a handful of self-driving Leaf electric cars ferrying passengers on a set route between the company’s headquarters in Tokyo and a nearby shopping center.