In the latest volley in the autonomous vehicle wars, Groupe Renault and Nissan have become the first automotive manufacturers to explore driverless mobility services with Waymo. They have entered into “an exclusive agreement for an initial period to explore all aspects of driverless mobility services for passengers and deliveries.”
The agreement is claimed to be designed to bring together the “strengths of each party and expand expertise by assessing market opportunities, working together to research commercial, legal and regulatory issues related to driverless transportation-as-a-service offerings in France and Japan.”
The Alliance of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, with a global footprint and portfolio covering every segment of passenger and light commercial vehicles, is arguably – if internal spats don’t interfere – well-matched to join this business exploration with Waymo, a Google financed self-driving technology company. Waymo claims with some justification to be building the world’s most experienced “driver” with more than 10 million miles on public roads.
The agreement could be a first step to developing long-term, profitable driverless mobility services operations – goal that is being pursued universally across the automotive universe with thus far dubious results.
The required analysis will first take place in France and Japan, home to Groupe Renault and Nissan headquarters, respectively, and may expand to other markets, excluding China, in the future. Alliance Ventures, the strategic venture capital arm of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, has become the lead strategic investor of WeRide.ai (formerly JingChi.ai), China’s leading autonomous driving company focused on Level 4 (L4) self-driving technology. (ah, French love affairs are complicated and sometimes include multiple partners.)
To complete the exploration process and no doubt limit liability, Groupe Renault and Nissan will create joint venture Alliance-focused companies in France and Japan dedicated to driverless mobility services.
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