While Uber is suffering setbacks with its self-driving program, and their deal with Toyota is under fire. Waymo is going strong and charging forward with deals on multiple fronts.
Waymo recently settled a deal with JLR to supply them with 20,000 Jaguar vehicles from their AV taxi platform. They have also been in negotiations for the past 2 years with Honda to deliver a brand-new vehicle for their AV partnership. According to the Waymo CEO John Krafcik, the new vehicle will be a concept designed from scratch and would resemble a standard vehicle but be totally AV compliant. This means that the new vehicle would serve three purposes, it would be AV which means there is no driver seat, no driver controls either. The vehicle would be larger, so it can be used for either transporting people or goods, and the vehicle would be designed for passenger comfort or efficient goods holding, handling and distribution.
Waymo has been exploring freight as well as passenger AV for quite a while. Their freight project has been working in a pilot, where they deliver goods from Google's data centers. Waymo is also performing a full self-driving pilot in Phoenix, AZ, where total autonomous rides are available to a select group of customers.
The new partnership with Honda is actually a game save for Waymo since the automating industry has suddenly woken up realizing that it doesn't need any middle-men companies to increase expenditure for a service they can provide naturally. GM as well as BMW and Daimler Benz have started to set up their own AV rental and taxi platform, reading it for when they introduce their AV fleets. This concept could grow like a virus, and other automakers, such as Volvo and Toyota could change their approach and cancel collaboration with Uber to go it alone.
Waymo, realizing this issue, would prefer to remain in the business and as such needs to create its own car, and become a car maker too. By joining up with Honda, they are creating a new identity, an automating identity to go along with their AV technology identity.
It is possible that rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft don't realize that automakers don't need app companies to manage fleets. They can do it alone, and by doing so, cut out the additional costs and expenses of partnering with these loss centers. (They have yet to be profitable).
Add to this the global awareness of regulators to the taxi regulations and rideshare imbalance, and over the next year, we could be seeing a global shift to full regulations that will basically convert rideshare app companies into virtual taxi ranks, which is what they really are.
Now let's just add in the global infrastructure of automakers and their mechanics and spare parts, and you have a global framework for managing AV fleets without the need of Uber and Lyft.