By on March 27, 2018

Image: Waymo

Let’s hope future robo-taxi passengers appreciate a sport-tuned suspension and crisp driving dynamics, because there’s a slim chance they’ll notice it when shuttling around in a driverless Jaguar.

On Tuesday, Waymo, autonomous car unit of Google, announced its intent to purchase up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric crossovers for its future fleet of AV EVs. Fitted with an array of self-driving hardware and software, Waymo says the cars will hit the road in 2020. Testing begins this year, which has us wondering what kind of wait a regular I-Pace customer faces.

News of this bulk buy comes two months after Waymo’s decision to purchase “thousands” of hybrid Chrysler Pacifica minivans for its autonomous ride-hailing fleet. Fiat Chrysler and Waymo entered into an agreement long ago (in AV terms), with testing now ongoing on public roads in numerous cities. Phoenix, Arizona is the site of the company’s Early Rider test program, in which the public can summon and ride in a driverless Pacifica.

Later this year, Phoenix will serve as the launch site for the company’s commercial ride-hailing service, featuring completely driver-free cab rides for paying customers. Phoenix, of course, is a market that’s very unlikely to see snow or rain obscure road boundaries, painted markers, street signs, and the like.

So far, Waymo hasn’t seen a tragedy like that experienced by Uber last week, and, ulike Uber, the company has voluntarily submitted information to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to document its progress.

The deal between Waymo and Jaguar, which carries an undisclosed price (it’s estimated at $1 billion or more — the I-Pace’s profit margin is unknown and Jag won’t want to take a hit), will see the two companies collaborate on the vehicle’s production at the factory level. Self-driving I-Pace models will roll out of the assembly plant with everything needed to enter driverless taxi duty, rather than seeing them shipped to Waymo for outfitting. The two companies claim up to 20,000 of the specialized I-Paces will be built in the first two years of production.

The Jaguar I-Pace, which starts at $69,500 (USD), boasts approximately 240 miles of range from its 90 kWh battery pack. Two electric motors positioned front and rear combine for an output of 394 horsepower and 512 lb-ft of torque — more than enough motivation for sedate, follow-the-rules taxi service. It seem like overkill, given the car’s intended use, but Waymo has global domination in mind here. Jaguar not only has the brand recognition, but also the cash, suppliers, and facility to churn out I-Paces at a reliable clip.

Orders for retail customers began earlier this month, and the first I-Paces should enter driveways by the middle of this year.

[Images: Waymo, Jaguar Land Rover]

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11 Comments on “Self-driving Company Waymo to Buy Thousands of High-end, Sporty Jaguar EVs for Taxi Service...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    When Waymo is done with their testing, I’ll buy one of their I-Pace mules for cheap and drive it like a regular car.

    Although I still don’t understand its terrible range with such a huge battery.

  • avatar

    for the next decade, the problem with robocars isn’t if it can be done. it’s can it be done profitably?

    there’s a reason why a typical taxi is a prius w/100,000 -200k+ miles.

    But hey, if Google (Waymo) shareholders wants to subsidize a my next ride in a Jag, I’ll take it.

  • avatar

    It’s an auto-pod taxi, what difference does it make if it’s a Jag or A Daewoo? If the make and model of an auto-pod taxi are important to you, you need to start sleeping with your hands on top of the covers. Good grief.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly what came to my mind when I saw this.

      I wish the taxi I’m riding in had 20 inch wheels and low profile tires! said nobody ever. The Pacifica made sense; this makes no sense.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s the same thinking as people who order a Lincoln town car (or an XTS) instead of a yellowcab.

      Impressions matter, and if you want to look successful, the ride you arrive in is important.

      Honestly, this finally made a lot of the “mobility” and “sharing” initiatives finally make sense. Nobody is going to go halfsies on a Chevy Cruze, but if you don’t drive very often, i could definitely understand splitting the lease on an Jaaaaaag with a few other people.

      • 0 avatar

        Comfort and safety are also important. Presumably a self driving car engineered like a Toyota Hilux would have a low cost per mile but it would be relatively loud, uncomfortable and unsafe.

  • avatar

    Sounds like a needlessly expensive taxi ride.

  • avatar

    This should make a taxi ride either Waymo exciting, or Waymo terrifying.

  • avatar

    You’ve got to give Jaguar some credit here. They look like a modern and innovative car maker yet have a tremendous sporting pedigree. BMW and co look soooo last year!

  • avatar

    So Jaguar I-pace is a new Town Car now?
    The reason Google chose Jaguar is that is is reliable, very durable and cheap to repair.

    • 0 avatar

      Correct. Jaguar simply showed Google how reliable their cars aren’t versus Teslas and Google quickly realised that the best electrical car in the world is a Jaguar

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