TURIN — Waymo's vehicles have passed the 7-million-mile mark of fully autonomous driving on public roads, CEO John Krafcik says.
"The world keeps saying that self-driving cars are coming soon," Krafcik said last week at the annual Automotive News Europe Congress here. "We're doing this. Today. In Phoenix. Driving without humans in the front row."
The head of Alphabet's autonomous driving subsidiary also said Waymo wants to expand beyond the United States by entering Europe, potentially offering a mobility service with a fully driverless car fleet in cooperation with a local partner.
Krafcik said it is possible the business "would take a very different approach" in Europe. For that reason, Waymo has been spending more time in Europe to better understand key differences in areas such as the regulatory and policy environment.
"There's an opportunity for us at Waymo to experiment here in Europe, with different product forms, with different products and maybe even with different go-to-market strategies," Krafcik told the audience.
Whereas Waymo will have a branded mobility service in Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area in the near future, Krafcik said he would likely seek out a partner to help the company in Europe.
"It's probably fair to say that the Waymo brand wouldn't be as strong as some other existing incumbent brands that are already strong in Europe, so that's one potentially different go-to-market approach," he said.
Should it proceed, Waymo can lean on two European partners in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover. FCA has a contract with Waymo to provide Chrysler Pacifica minivans, and JLR has a contract to provide the full-electric Jaguar I-Pace to Waymo to embed Waymo's software.
Krafcik said he could envision a situation in which Waymo would deepen its ties with FCA. This could mean going from a partnership in which the automaker develops cars for its transportation-as-a-service to also working with it "on a personal-use licensing product," he said, without elaborating further.
FCA hosted an investor day during which Krafcik showed his company's self-driving capabilities on at the Balocco proving ground in Italy.
"For the first time, we brought Waymo technology to Europe and demonstrated true Level 4, no-humans-in-the-front-row, fully autonomous, no-safety-net driving right here in Italy," Krafcik said.
Jaguar might have a leg up in the running as the brand was chosen to supply I-Pace electric vehicles for Waymo's branded fleet in Phoenix and the Bay Area.
"We want to get to a hundred percent BEV fleet as quickly as possible," Krafcik said. "And our systems also work very well when you've got a high-powered electrical system in the vehicle."