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Waymo has revealed that Geely sub-brand Zeekr will build its upcoming fully driverless taxis.
Waymo will integrate its Driver software into the vehicles, which are set to be designed and tested in Sweden.
The Zeekr-manufactured Waymo One is designed to prioritise the comfort, convenience, and preferences of Waymo One riders, according to the company. The vehicles will also feature a flat floor for accessible entry and no fixed B-pillars to make getting in and out easy.
The Alphabet sub-brand even says that its riders “will one day experience an interior without steering wheel and pedals, and with plenty of headroom, legroom and reclining seats, screens and chargers within arm’s reach, and an easy to configure and comfortable vehicle cabin.”
The concept images released by Waymo show the minivans in front of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge as well as its sliding doors and roomy interior.
However, there is no word on when these vehicles will be coming to US roads. All Waymo will tell us is that the new cars will be introduced “in the years to come.”
While Waymo is currently offering driverless taxi services in some areas of the US, such as New York and San Francisco, it is facing increased competition from rival companies including GM-backed Cruise and Uber. This new partnership should give Waymo some renewed vigour in its attempts to make autonomous taxi services a reality for Americans.
Waymo is also trialling its autonomous trucking operations in Texas.
The partnership should also give China-based Zeekr and Geely improved access to the American markets opening up potential future partnerships with other companies, something that Chinese brands have struggled with in the past.
The partnership will also likely allow some of Waymo’s brand cachet to rub off on Zeekr and Geely, which should help assuage the reluctance of some American consumers to use Chinese brands.