Waymo to Purchase 'Thousands' of Chrysler Pacificas for Self-driving Duty

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
waymo to purchase 8216 thousands of chrysler pacificas for self driving duty

Waymo, the self-driving division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, just announced it has reached a deal to purchase a buttload of Pacifica minivans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Alright, to be fair, it didn’t actually use the term “buttload.” It said Chrysler would provide “thousands” of units, which will ultimately be outfitted for autonomous driving.

Unfortunately, neither company seems willing to disclose an official count. Waymo currently has around 600 self-driving Pacificas in its fleet, so even an extra thousand vehicles would equate to a multi-million dollar deal and the exponential growth of its autonomous development program.

“With the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we’ve moved from research and development to operations and deployment,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in an official statement. “These additional vehicles will help us scale.”

In the past, Waymo used its little Firefly pod prototypes and Lexus SUVs for testing. However, it has almost entirely phased both out in favor of the Pacifica. The primary reason being that the minivan has more commercial applications. A big order like this could be indicative of the company wanting to move out of testing and into business.

However, with its autonomous fleet just beginning testing in seriously inclement parts of the United States, being able to hail a self-driving Pacifica may not be in the cards for a while.

Still, residents of Phoenix, Arizona have been able to experience its autonomous vehicles without a driver — albeit in a localized area. The company claims it will expand its “Early Rider” program in the months to come, allowing more Arizona residents to use the minivans as their own personal taxi service.

Despite partnering with Waymo, FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne’s feelings towards autonomy are noticeably measured compared to other CEOs. In the past, he called the race toward autonomy “difficult” and cited the headaches involved as one of the main reasons for getting into bed with company in the first place.

“In order to move quickly and efficiently in autonomy, it is essential to partner with like-minded technology leaders,” Marchionne said in a statement. “Our partnership with Waymo continues to grow and strengthen; this represents the latest sign of our commitment to this technology.”

[Image: Waymo]

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  • Whynotaztec Whynotaztec on Jan 30, 2018

    So if it’s bad to sell to rental fleets, is it bad to sell to autonomous fleets????

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Jan 31, 2018

    These are all plug-in hybrid Pacificas, no? Not just because green=good PR but because the buttload of sensors and computers on board require a fair bit of electricity, or so I am told.

  • FreedMike Needs a few more HP to really spice things up...
  • Oberkanone Absolute insanity on our public roads! A danger to society. Bravo Dodge!
  • Lou_BC Cool car but 35k USD?
  • Lou_BC I've owned and ridden many litre class sport bikes. Those bikes render anything on 4 wheels boring. This is cool but even if I had the cash, it would be a hard pass.
  • Jeff S Some of us don't care either way we are not into this type of car. Most of these will be stored in garages waiting for their value to go up. As someone above noted this is an old body style which is retro 70s Challenger which after researching it came out in the 2008 MY which means a long run for a model that is in its 16th year. I have always liked these but if I bought one I would not spend this kind of money on one probably get the V-6 version and use it as a family car but then I am not into drag racing or muscle cars. For the type of car it is it has a decent rear seat and not too bad of a trunk. Most of us are not going to spend 100k for any vehicle at least currently so its not something most of us will buy and stick in a garage waiting for its value to increase. I am glad that these editions came out for those who can afford them and it keeps a little more color into what has become a very dull vehicle market but then with age I pick the dull appliance like reliable vehicle because that's what I need. Impressive car but not for me.