Waymo Ends First Funding Round with Over $2 Billion
Let’s see, when was the last time we heard about Waymo, the self-driving project backed by Google and owned by Alphabet Inc.? Oh, right. Google/Alphabet Inc. decided that they wanted to start a fight with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over the safety regulations for autonomous vehicles, cars that drive themselves. This was about a year after Waymo launched its own ride hailing app, Waymo One, and shortly after Waymo signed a partnership with Renault, the same automobile group that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) proposed a merger with and then backed out of in the same week. What is the Waymo up to now? Even with all the success, even self-driving vehicle projects like the Waymo need a little funding, and the latest funding round raised $2.25 billion.
Who knew the Waymo project was still open to funding? After years of development, testing, and the launch of Waymo One, does Goolge/Alphabet really need more dollar signs to mull over? A company worth about $105 billion in September 2019, according to investment bank Morgan Stanley, is really kicking butt already. However, it was close to $200 billion in 2018, and the drop has been due to the apparent readiness of self-driving technology from competitors. Google may be a giant, but it’s still contending with the likes of General Motors and Ford Motor Co. in the race to autonomous vehicles. As well as suppliers like Aptiv and Mobileye, and tech companies like China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex. Aptiv is already the number one self-driving hailing network in Las Vegas and recently partnered with the Hyundai Motor Group, so things are definitely heating up.
With all that competition, it’s no wonder Waymo needs a little push. Not only that, but with the launch of self-driving robotaxis and ride-hailing networks starting to become a little thick, the Waymo is taking things in a different direction. The next big thing on the road of autonomous vehicles is PBVs or Purpose-Built Vehicles. Over the last few years, there has been an increasing shift towards delivery vehicles that don’t require a driver. It may put pizza delivery boys out of a job, but being able to order pizza on your way home and having a delivery truck drop it off when you arrive is the luxury of the future, and we want it now!
There were several investors during this round, including Alphabet itself. One investor, global supplier Magna International, has already played a hand in expanding the reach of Waymo self-driving technology, equipping the company’s self-driving systems onto the Jaguar electric I-Pace and the Chrysler Pacifica minivans at a factory in Detroit. If anything, Waymo CEO John Krafcik plans to build partnerships with more companies like Magna.
“Waymo’s DNA is probably not as a Tier 1 supplier…Our role is to build the world’s most experienced driver, and that’s why we want to partner with companies like Magna and focus on integrating into vehicles. Look for more partnerships like that.” – Krafcik
Waymo has plans to launch its fifth-generation self-driving system in late 2020. The first vehicle to get it will actually not be an FCA vehicle, but the first of its kind will come with expanded computing performance and added all-weather capabilities to expand the reach and functionality of the self-driving Waymo vehicle. It’s so exciting. Follow along with all the Waymo-related news on Aventura Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram social media.