Waymo Jumps Waiting List, Takes Early Delivery of Jaguar I-Pace
The ride-hailing service will use the early units to determine how to outfit its fleet of 20,000 I-Paces.
Jaguar's entry to the electric SUV market isn't set to reach the hands of customers for nearly two more months, however, according to TechCrunch, Google's ride-hailing sister company Waymo was able to jump the line and obtain a few units ahead of the public.
The I-Paces acquired by Waymo have been spotted on the streets of San Francisco, California and are believed to be the first iteration of the electric SUVs that have been made available outside of the automaker's own test fleet. Though orders from the general public are expected to be filled beginning in late August, Waymo appears to have been allowed to scoop up a few testbeds early. Jaguar is said to have delivered three examples of the I-Pace to Waymo.
It's important to note that the I-Paces are not yet operating with any semi-autonomous capabilities. Waymo told TechCrunch that its main focus with the early units was to determine design requirements. Additionally, Waymo will be performing durability tests to ensure the real-world performance of the SUVs.
Earlier this year, Waymo and Jaguar announced a partnership in which 20,000 units of the I-Pace would be used to expand the provider's offering of ride-hailing vehicles. The all-electric SUVs will be added to Waymo's existing fleet of both semi-autonomous and, what the company is calling 'fully self-driving', Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids. The I-Pace will far outnumber Waymo's existing pick for luxury SUVs in its array of automobiles, the Lexus RH450h, effectively distancing the company from rival Apple which continues to use the Lexus in testing.
FCA's minivan isn't being replaced by JLR's freshest model just yet, as Waymo also announced its intent to purchase as many as 62,000 additional Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids nearly two months after it committed to the sizeable order of I-Paces. Waymo may be banking on using the Jag in a service similar to Uber and Lyft's luxury offerings or may intend to place the all-electric SUVs in areas with a densely populated charging infrastructure. Though the I-Pace can reach up to 240 miles on a single charge, the Pacifica Hybrid is only able to achieve a mere 33 miles per charge but is ultimately supplemented by gasoline, allowing it to operate in areas where electric charging support is sparse.
Though the number of units Waymo received is relatively small compared to the full order of 20,000 units, the early access will help the company to develop the platform for testing ahead of receiving the rest. This could help keep Waymo's parking lots empty until the company is ready to outfit its fleet of cars with new hardware, and as an unintended consequence, may also help to keep global availability of the I-Pace fairly accessible to the public.