Rental-car giant Avis Budget Group (NASDAQ: CAR) has signed a deal to maintain Waymo’s fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica vans in Arizona.
Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) subsidiary Waymo will own the vehicles and pay Avis Budget for the service, Bloomberg Technology reported. The two companies are already participating in a ridesharing experiment in Phoenix with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE: FCAU).
The deal will give Avis Budget expertise and experience maintaining self-driving vehicles. That will give it a leg up on competitors when autonomous vehicles become widespread.
Avis Budget plans to retrofit six facilities in Phoenix to accommodate the vans, the company’s CEO Larry De Shon revealed. The upgrade will include tents to protect the vehicles and their sensors from the rain. Avis will maintain the basic mechanical systems of the vehicles. Servicing of the vans is supposed to begin later this year.
Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) will maintain the sensors and the control systems. News articles did not say whether Alphabet intends to roll out other models of self-driving vehicles in Phoenix.
Waymo in Talks with Honda and Lyft
Waymo is also in talks with Honda Motor Company (NYSE: HMC) and Lyft for self-driving vehicle schemes, Bloomberg Technology reported. One group that has benefited from the deal is Avis Budget stockholders; the company’s share price went up by 21% after the deal was announced.
Self-driving vehicles would be a beneficial solution for car-hire companies. Their ultimate goal would be a vehicle that drives itself back to the rental agency after the customer was done with it.
Avis Budget has a great deal of experience with ridesharing. It owns the very successful car-sharing service Zipcar which has around one million members. News stories did not say if Zipcar will participate in the Waymo ridesharing experiment.