Self-driving technology company Waymo will retire its fleet of Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans, the vehicular flag-bearers for the nation’s first autonomous ride-hailing service.
Waymo said Thursday it will replace the vans used in its metro Phoenix ride-hailing service by increasing its deployment of Jaguar I-Pace electric vehicles.
The transition will occur in a matter of weeks. Waymo intends to maintain a national fleet of about 700 vehicles.
The move comes as the Google-affiliated company joins the “EV Acceleration Challenge” unveiled this week by the White House.
As the federal government hastens electrification efforts, Waymo saw an opportunity to “not only show how our technology can improve safety on roadways, but improve access to EVs generally,” Adam Lenz, the company’s head of sustainability and environment, told Automotive News.
The company has commercially operated driverless robotaxis in metro Phoenix since December 2018. It plans future service in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Shared vehicles may allow for a higher number of vehicle miles traveled to be electrified in the short term, he said. And they may attract riders who want to be green but don’t want to purchase an EV out of the expense or issues like paying for home-charging equipment, range anxiety and finding charging locations.
“You’re not going to run out of battery with Waymo,” Lenz said. “We’re going to get you where you need to go.”
Waymo intends to power its all-electric fleet with renewable energy sources and is coordinating supply with local utility providers, Lenz said. In cases where that’s not possible, the company will offset emissions by purchasing renewable energy credits and certificates.