Jaguar Land Rover sign supply deal for autonomous vehicles with Waymo

JLR and ride-hailing company Waymo announce long-term partnership beginning with supply of 20,000 electric i-Pace vehicles starting in 2018.

The vehicles will join a 20,000 strong fleet of autonomous taxis scheduled to start service in 2020

The deal is set to make JLR the visible face of Waymo, with its vehicles carrying the ride hailing company’s self-driving technology. Formerly Google’s self-driving car venture, Waymo plans to launch the world’s first fully autonomous transportation service, with a smart phone app allowing customers to request a vehicle which, it stresses, will have “no one in the front seat”.

The i-Pace is itself an innovation for the Indian-owned, UK-based carmaker, being its first fully electric SUV. Launched at the Geneva motor show in January, the i-Pace is claimed to be an SUV with sports car performance, powered by a 90kWh lithium ion battery driving twin electric motors, generating 700Nm of torque and 400bhp.

“With the Jaguar I-PACE we have a world-beating car that’s captured the imagination of customers around the world,” said Ralf Speth, JLR chief executive. “Our passion for further advancing smart mobility needs expert long-term partners. In joining forces with Waymo we are pioneering to push the boundaries of technology. Together we will deliver the self-driving Waymo Jaguar I-PACE with the grace, space and eco-pace that customers expect.”

The announcement was made ahead of the New York motor show, where the JLR-Waymo i-Pace will make its debut. Under the terms of the deal, the cars will begin testing this year, including capturing real-world data. The companies say these tests will help refine the technology to optimise safety and reliability. Once the system has been fully developed, the cars will become part of Waymo’s driverless fleet from 2020. In the first two years of i-Pace production, up 20,000 vehicles will join the fleet, and the companies will explore future collaborations.

“While we’ve been focused at Waymo on building the world’s most experienced driver, the team at Jaguar Land Rover has developed an all-new battery-electric platform that looks to set a new standard in safety, design and capability. We’re sure Waymo riders will enjoy the safe, premium and delightful experience that the self-driving I-PACE will provide,” said John Krafcik, Waymo chief executive.

Waymo expects to complete one million rides per day, in excess of the number currently completed by market leader Uber, still embroiled in controversy following the fatal crash between a pedestrian and an autonomous vehicle under test in Phoenix, Arizona.