Google Unveils Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivans For Self-Driving Fleet

Google said several months ago that it was partnering with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to build 100 autonomous Pacifica Hybrid minivans, a move that would double Google's self-driving fleet. Now it is about to make good on that arrangement. Chrysler announced today that production of all 100 Pacifica Hybrid minivans has been completed and delivered to Waymo, the new self-driving division created by Alphabet (Google's parent company), where they will be outfitted with autonomous hardware and software.

"The Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our fully self-driving test fleet. FCA's product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program kickoff to full vehicle assembly in just six months," said John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer, Waymo. "They've been great partners, and we look forward to continued teamwork with them as we move into 2017."

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan

Waymo and FCA each sent some of their engineers to a facility in southeaster Michigan to accelerate the development of these "uniquely built" minivans. The worked together to modify the minivan's electrical, powertrain, chassis, and structural systems to accommodate Google's self-driving technologies. They also carried out extensive testing at FCA's Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, and also at the Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, Arizona, and Waymo test sits in California.

"As consumers' transportation needs evolve, strategic collaborations such as this one are vital to promoting a culture of innovation, safety and technology," said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, FCA. "Our partnership with Waymo enables FCA to directly address the opportunities and challenges the automotive industry faces as we quickly approach a future where fully self-driving vehicles are very much a part of our daily lives."

It has been reported that Google is getting out of the business of producing its own fleet of self-driving cars after helping to accelerate the category at large. Alphabet CEO Larry Page and CFO Ruth Porat apparently came to the determination that it was "impractical" to continue being an automaker of sorts due to the growing competition in the field.

Going forward, Google will look to partner with automakers as it has done with Chrysler in order to bring its self-driving technologies to market.