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+++ ASTON MARTIN has announced that its Valkyrie hypercar will be a limited run of 150 units but, as it turns out, it could have sold many, many more. Chief executive Andy Palmer admitted that the British car manufacturer underestimated the demand for its industry-redefining hypercar. “When we started discussing Valkyrie volumes we thought we might do 24 or 59. Then we said, OK, maybe we’ll sell 100, well let’s try for 150. It’s then I realized I could have sold that car 5 or 6 times over and you kick yourself. And it is really painful, sometimes and one of the things I keep promising myself is that we say we’re going to do 150 and we don’t do 151; I think it’s really important that when you make a promise, you keep it. When people are writing a big check, you have to live up to it”. While Palmer admits that it would have generated much more revenue if it built upwards of 900 examples, he insists that the Valkyrie isn’t just about making money. In fact, it is much more important to Aston than a few hundred million more, because it acts as the centerpiece for the company’s new direction. “Every turnaround plan needs a flag to rally around and to a large extent the Valkyrie was has been that flag”, he said. “People at Aston Martin were always good. I inherited a good bunch but they had their tails between their legs and they were behaving like lost souls. I needed to give the company something to get its swagger back”. Palmer says that Aston Martin’s team handpicked which applicants would actually be given the oppoprtunity to get the Valkyrie in a bid to ensure it ends up in the hands of the right customers. Each Valkyrie owner has also had to sign a contract confirming that they won’t flip the vehicle for a year; although, realistically speaking, we do expect some build slots or “slightly used” (ahem!) cars to pop up, contract or no contract. +++ 

+++ BMW ’s chief executive officer Harald Krüger has announced he will not seek a second term when the German car maker’s supervisory board meets on 18 July. The move is not unexpected following a series of on-going health problems that have plagued Krüger since his appointment to the position in 2015. But it throws BMW into a period of uncertainty at a crucial stage of falling sales, reduced profitability and pressure to increase investment in the development of electric vehicles. The 53-year-old’s current contact expires in April 2020. BMW confirms it now plans to use next week’s supervisory board meeting to discuss a possible successor. Krüger was appointed with strong support from the Munich based company’s majority shareholder, the Quandt family. Since then, however, BMW has lost its long-held position as the number one premium automotive brand by global sales to Mercedes-Benz. In addition, Krüger has been criticised internally for failing to increase investment in the company’s BMW i electric vehicle sub-brand following the launch of the i3 and i8 models. In recent weeks BMW has attempted to boost its position by announcing it has fast-tracked its electrification plans, bringing forward the introduction of 25 electric and plug-in hybrid model from an original date of 2025 to the end of 2023. In his announcement, Krüger said: “The BMW Group has been my professional home for more than 27 years. After more than 10 years in the board of management, more than 4 of them as the CEO of the BMW Group, I would like to pursue new professional endeavours”. Norbert Reithofer, previous CEO and chairman of the BMW supervisory board, said: “Over the last quarter-century, Harald Krüger has demonstrated unwavering dedication to the BMW Group in all of the various positions he has held”. Among the favourite to succeed Krüger are Oliver Zipse, board member responsible for production. He is a 55 year-old company veteran. BMW declined to comment on whether Zipse would be confirmed as chief executive, saying the matter of potential executive appointments will be formally decided on July 18 when the full supervisory board is due to meet. Zipse is the youngest of 3 potential successors, a possible advantage as BMW has an upper age limit of 60 for management board members. He joined BMW as a trainee in 1991 and oversaw big increases in BMW’s production capacity, particularly in China and the United States. Zipse is also a favorite because his current job is head of production, a role which previous BMW chief executives, including Krüger and BMW’s current supervisory board chairman Norbert Reithofer, also held before becoming CEO. BMW, which also owns the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, has a track record of delivering industry-leading profit margins despite its small scale, thanks in large part to efficient production methods. Before becoming a management board member in 2015, Zipse was a vice president of technical planning and for product strategy. “The CEO candidate will not be a surprise”, one of the sources said. Zipse’s potential rivals include 59 year old R&D board member Klaus Fröhlich and 57-year-old chief financial officer Nicolas Peter. Another possible rival is Markus Duesmann, BMW’s engine development expert, who left for Volkswagen in 2018. Under Krüger’s leadership, BMW lost the title of best-selling luxury carmaking brand to Mercedes-Benz in 2016, and put the brakes on a plan to mass produce carbon-fiber based electric cars at a time when zero-emission vehicles made by Tesla were gaining traction with customers. Krüger was hastily installed as CEO designate in December 2014 and formally took office in May 2015 following the defection of fellow BMW board member Herbert Diess to rival Volkswagen. Auto sector shares have taken a hit since then, with VW’s outperforming BMW’s, as the Wolfsburg-based carmaker pursued a more radical electrification strategy. Since Diess left BMW, Volkswagen’s shares are down 18 % while BMW’s stock is down almost 30 %. Krüger has avoided high-profile appearances in front of large crowds since he collapsed on stage during his first major news conference as CEO during the Frankfurt car show in September 2015. At BMW’s annual results news conference earlier this year, the company sidestepped questions about whether Krüger would receive a contract extension. +++ 

+++ CITROEN will launch 3 new sedan cars in the next 2 years, starting with a reinvented C6, marketing director Arnaud Belloni has confirmed. The move, in line with the firm’s heritage but against the trend of rivals’ plans in the face of declining saloon sales globally, is described as “unique but not risky” by Belloni, who hinted that the styling wouldn’t follow established saloon conventions. It was initially kick-started by the 2016 Cxperience concept. The production car based on that concept has long been rumoured to be under preparation for sale, and it will be unveiled at the Paris motor show in 2020. In a surprise announcement, however, Belloni said that 2 more sedan models will follow in 2021, with both being unveiled in full production form rather than as concepts. “It’s our belief that there’s still a place for the sedan”, said Belloni. “When you factor in our pledge that all our cars will have either electric or plug-in hybrid options from next year, and the platform changes that brings, you then consider the opportunities that delivers for us to innovate stylistically. What I will promise you is that these will be cars in keeping with Citroën’s heritage for innovation. The rise of the SUV cannot be undone, but that gives us room to reimagine the the purpose and look of the sedan. I don’t wish to use the word ‘disruptive’, as that can be misinterpreted, but I promise the look of these cars will be very original. Not risky, we must sell cars, but they will carry on our tradition for looking at new ways to interpret segments. They will be contemporary in the truest form of the word”. +++

+++ FORD and Volkswagen have reached an outline agreement to share electric and autonomous car technologies, extending their alliance beyond a cooperation on commercial vehicles, a source familiar with the matter said. Volkswagen will share its MEB electric vehicle platform with Ford, the source said. Volkswagen’s supervisory board is due to discuss deepening the alliance at a meeting on July 11, 2019, a second source told. A Volkswagen spokesman declined to comment on the details of a potential alliance but said that talks with Ford are progressing well. A Ford spokeswoman said, “Our talks with Volkswagen continue. Discussions have been productive across a number of areas. We’ll share updates as details become more firm”. +++

+++ GENESIS won’t introduce its GV80 SUV until the middle of next year, but it has revealed that it is already working on a smaller SUV / crossover. During a recent sales call with reporters, Hyundai chief operating officer Erwin Raphael announced that a new crossover is being developed around the platform of the G70 sports sedan. “We’re very excited to introduce the GV80 about 11 months from now. Next May/June. Then maybe 10 or 11 months after that, a compact crossover SUV built on the G70 platform”, Raphael said. Unsurprisingly, no further details were given about the G70 based crossover, but news that the company is developing such a vehicle should excite consumers. The G70 has proven itself to be one of the finest cars in its class and a crossover version with similar performance could prove to be a runaway success for Genesis. I suspect the vehicle will be sold with the same engines as the G70 sedan. That means a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 252 hp and 352 Nm will probably serve entry-level buyers. The crossover / SUV range would then be topped out by a 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 derivative with a mighty 365 hp 510 Nm. It remains a mystery as to how the vehicle will look but it will likely combine styling elements of the G70 and its largest sibling, the GV80. The GV80 will share many parts with the G80 sedan, including the same 3.8-liter V6, twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6, and 5.0-liter V8 engines. +++ 

+++ INDIA proposes tax waivers on the purchase of electric vehicles and removed import taxes on some auto components to help boost sales and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. India, the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is home to 14 of the world’s most polluted cities, including the capital New Delhi, with its toxic air claiming more than 1 million lives in 2017. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, presenting the federal budget to parliament, said buyers of electric vehicles will receive an income tax deduction of 150,000 rupees ($2,189.30) on interest paid on loans taken out to them. She added that the government will also withdraw import tariffs on some parts used to make electric vehicles. “Considering our large consumer base, we aim to leapfrog and envision India as a global hub of manufacturing of electric vehicles”, she said in the budget speech. While India wants electric vehicles to account for 30 % of all passenger vehicle sales in India by 2030, electric cars account for less than 1 % of new vehicle sales due to a lack of charging infrastructure and the high cost of batteries. Sitharaman said the government has already proposed reducing a national goods and services tax from 12 % to 5 % to encourage sales. The plan is to have “mega-manufacturing plants” to make lithium storage batteries and solar electric charging infrastructure. “The government clearly wants to create an entire ecosystem for e-mobility in the country”, said Puneet Gupta, associate director at IHS Markit. As part of its program to cut pollution in its bustling cities, the finance minister also announced that it would shut down old and inefficient power plants and look for ways to increase the use of natural gas-based power. +++ 

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) has confirmed its next-generation XJ, launching next year, will be a pure electric model and will be built at its Castle Bromwich plant. The firm announced the news on the day that production of the current generation ends at the factory. The electric XJ will be the first electric model produced at the plant, but JLR said it plans to manufacture a “a range of new electrified vehicles” at the facility. Jaguar Land Rover’s current electrified models, the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrids, are built at its Solihull plant, while the electric Jaguar I-Pace is produced by contract manufacturer Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. Autointernationaal.nl first reported that the next-generation XJ would go electric in 2015, but this is the first time that the Coventry-based firm has confirmed the bold move for its largest sedan. It said the new XJ will “build on the characteristics synonymous with its predecessors: beautiful design, intelligent performance and revered luxury”, adding that it will be built by the same “expert team of designers and product development specialists responsible for delivering” the I-Pace. Today’s announcement builds on JLR’s plans confirmed earlier this year to bring its battery and Electric Drive Unit assembly to the Midlands. The Battery Assembly Centre at Hams Hall, opening in 2020, will be capable of producing 150,000 units annually, while the Wolverhampton Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC) is home of global EDU production. JLR, which announced 4.500 job losses earlier this year, said the news “safeguards several thousand jobs in the UK”. Work on Castle Bromwich will begin later this month in order to allow it to support JLR’s next-generation Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA), which can house diesel and petrol vehicles alongside full electric and hybrid models. JLR chief executive Ralf Speth said: “The future of mobility is electric and, as a visionary British company, we are committed to making our next generation of zero-emission vehicles in the UK. “We are co-locating our electric vehicle manufacture, Electronic Drive Units and battery assembly to create a powerhouse of electrification in the Midlands”. Speth, when asked about the scale of the investment, commented: “When you get into new architectures like we have, you’re in to the billions, spread over years to come”. Jaguar Land Rover said that while the expansion of its electrified line-up will see customers offered a greater choice, “increased consumer take-up remains a challenge”. It called on government and industry to work together to bring a Tesla-esque giga-scale battery production facility to the UK to put the country at the “leading edge of electric mobility”. Speth commented: “Convenience and affordability are the two key enablers to drive the uptake of electric vehicles to the levels that we all need. Charging should be as easy as re-fuelling a conventional vehicle. Affordability will only be achieved if we make batteries here in the UK, close to vehicle production, to avoid the cost and safety risk of importing from abroad. The UK has the raw materials, scientific research in our universities and an existing supplier base to put the UK at the leading edge of mobility and job creation”. +++ 

+++ Industry insiders have often suspected the top job at BMW’s 4-Cylinder headquarters is cursed. That is at least, half the time. Seemingly without exception a failed CEO always follows a successful one. Bernd Pischetsrieder followed Eberhard von Künheim, Helmut Panke bowed out after Joachim Milberg and now Harald KRÜGER with Norbert Reithofer. Whether he jumped or he was pushed is at the end of the day irrelevant as his authority had been too heavily undermined by press speculation of his imminent demise as CEO. While the decision ultimately falls to the 2 family Quandt siblings that control the company, it was clear he no longer enjoyed the confidence of his board room peers and subordinates. He simply lacked the strong leadership character that the company needed at a time when its chief rival, Mercedes was overtaking its seemingly insurmountable lead. No doubt there were legacy problems as well as timing issues that could speak for a curse, but Krüger is very much responsible for his own failure. Weakness is sadly the first description that likely come to many minds. Who can forget his first major appearance before the world’s press as boss, when he collapsed on stage at the Frankfurt auto show in September 2015. Gossip immediately touched off about whether he had hidden deeper health problems, which only served to undermine his authority early on. The biggest problem in my mind however was that Krüger never appeared to be properly vetted in the run up to his coronation. It seemed the board had already settled on him as a replacement for Reithofer after just 4 years running personel in his first major assignment. What followed were 2 rushed stations as Mini and Rolls-Royce boss as well as head of production for just over 2 years, almost alibi assignments given the brief duration, before he was appointed in December 2014. It followed perhaps unsurprisingly that the company scrupulously shielded him from scrutiny in the following months. Few interviews were given as he prepared his much-anticipated March 2016 strategy plan finally presented which I had panned as a copycat strategy of Mercedes minus the EV strategy, with management jargon flung about to make it seem somehow new and improved. The list of accomplishments he leaves behind is wanting. His biggest was no doubt securing a deal to gain the majority of its lucrative Chinese joint venture with local partner Brilliance, the second biggest merely keeping BMW out of the headlines with the diesel scandal that engulfed Audi and Mercedes. Yet instead of a bold bet on the future of EVs like Volkswagen and Mercedes, which are developing purpose-built EV architectures in MEB and EVA, he chose a flexible architecture that requires compromises between combustion engine cars and EVs. His successor, almost certainly production chief Oliver Zipse, will have to think more boldly than Krüger ever did if it ever wants to reclaim the crown from Mercedes again. +++

+++ LAMBORGHINI ’s CEO Stefano Domenicali said that the car maker expects to sell more than 8,000 cars in 2019, bringing them closer to their self-imposed 10,000-unit sales cap. During the opening ceremony of the company’s new paint shop at the Sant’Agata Bolognese factory, Domenicali said: “We must not go on growing forever. We now have to consolidate these results and preserve exclusivity”. According to Lamborghini’s boss, the increase in sales this year is “the right dimension of our company with our current product portfolio”. Lamborghini’s profit margins will now be comparable to the brand’s biggest rivals. The Italian car maker predicts an increase of revenue to €1.7 billion in 2019, up from €1.42 billion in 2018. Lamborghini also repeated that they are not planning to build an electric supercar anytime soon, saying that its customers are currently not interested. However, Italy’s raging bull will have to use hybrid powertrains in its entire range by 2025 in order to lower their CO2 emissions and adhere to the stricter emissions regulations. The Urus, which is the driving force behind the brand’s sales success, is not going to use one of the company’s V10 and V12 engines anytime soon. On the contrary, Domenicali said the future Huracan replacement could use a turbocharged engine instead of the naturally aspirated V10, but the flagship Aventador supercar will stay away from any forced induction technologies. Domenicali also added that Lamborghini is currently examining its involvement into the recently announced Hypercar racing class, which is set to replace the current top-tier LMP1 category. +++

+++ The PORSCHE Panamera was unveiled just a couple of years ago (2016) and already, the German car manufacturer has started developing a facelift. If my sources are correct, is will get a newly-designed lightbar stretching between the rearlights. It won’t be a significant alteration but should closely mimic the light array of the current Porsche Cayenne. We can also expect it receiving new headlight graphics and tweaked bumpers. As for the cabin, it will remain largely unchanged apart from a new steering wheel. It is possible that the facelifted Panamera will debut at some stage next year, perhaps as early as the Geneva Motor Show in early March or in Paris later in the fall. Customers will be offered the same array of variants as the current car, meaning models such as the Panamera 4, Panamera 4S, Panamera 4S Diesel, Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, and Panamera Turbo will all be available. Sitting at the top of the refreshed Panamera range will be the Turbo S E-Hybrid. This vehicle is currently powered by one of Porsche’s most powerful engines which combined a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 with an electric motor to deliver a combined 671 hp and 850 Nm. +++

+++ RENAULT and Nissan have not decided whether to publish figures on cost savings and other synergies achieved by the alliance over the last year, as has been its custom, 2 sources close to the French automaker said, amid growing tension in the partnership. Over the past decade, the group has released figures each summer detailing how much money has been saved through cost-cutting, production sharing and other efficiencies, establishing it as a barometer of the health of the 20-year-old alliance. But since Carlos Ghosn, the former group chairman, was arrested in Japan and charged with corruption, relations between Renault and Nissan have frayed, raising doubts about the future of the one of the more successful auto alliances. “People have changed, governance has changed, why go on doing exactly the same thing”, one of the sources told, referring to the annual synergy figures. “We haven’t taken a definitive decision on whether to publish it”. The last cost-saving announcement, approved by the management of each company, was made in June 2018 and detailed synergies of €5.7 billion achieved in 2017. That was up from €5 billion in 2016, €4.3 billion in 2015, €3.8 billion in 2014 and €2.9 billion in 2013. The figures were first published in 2010. The target for 2018, according to the last forecast published before the Ghosn affair, was for cost-savings and revenue gains totaling €5.5 billion, slightly down on 2017. The long-term objective was to hit €10 billion by 2022-2023, out of total annual revenue, with Mitsubishi having joined the alliance in 2017, of around €170 billion. Renault is due to publish its first half earnings on July 26. +++ 

+++ The urgent need to lower vehicle emissions in Europe ahead of tougher CO2 rules that start to take effect next year is hitting sales of midsize SUV models. First-quarter sales of midsize SUVs slipped by 7.7 %, despite the addition of new entrants such as the Seat Tarraco and the latest generation Hyundai Santa Fe. “We are seeing a deceleration of the midsize SUV boom”, JATO Dynamics global analyst Felipe Munoz said. The decline comes after years where midsize SUVs showed the same growth as their small counterparts as consumers shunned MPVs in favor of models such as the Mitsubishi Outlander and Skoda Kodiaq, which continued to gain in the first quarter despite the sector’s downward trend. The biggest decline among models in the segment’s top 10 was experienced by a former No. 1, the Nissan X-Trail, which lost 70 % of its sales in the first quarter to leave it in 5th place. Also tumbling was the Renault Koleos, down 47 % and the Ford Edge, which also suffered a 47 % drop. Nissan has admitted it struggled to quickly adapt to last year’s changes in emissions regulations across its models. In response, the Japanese automaker dropped the X-Trail’s bigger 2.0-liter diesel engine. Ford meanwhile said in June it would restrict Edge sales to just 7 countries in Europe after demand fell to below 10,000 in 2018. That is far short of the 25,000 to 30,000 annual figure Ford predicted for Europe when the SUV was launched in the region 3 years ago. The Edge suffers from high CO2 levels from its 2 diesels, meaning customers pay more in countries that link vehicle taxes to CO2 emissions. “This can significantly reduce sales potential”, Ford said in a statement. Even before its new Santa Fe went on sale last year, Hyundai raised the issue of CO2 affecting demand. “We would like to raise sales in Europe, but large SUVs face a strong headwind in the region with the upcoming stricter CO2 emissions regulations”, Byung Kwon Rhim, Hyundai executive vice president and former president of Hyundai Europe, told. The new Santa Fe was 9th on the segment’s sales chart during the first quarter. The Santa Fe is only available as a diesel in some markets, for example the UK, but as is the case Europewide, customers are moving away from the fuel. Diesel sales in the sector fell 22 % in the first quarter, according to JATO figures. Despite the drop the fuel type still accounts for 62 % of sales in the segment. Models offering a smaller, more frugal gasoline engine as an alternative to diesel are on the rise. In the first quarter, the Skoda Kodiaq, which offers a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline variant, pushed last year’s segment leader, the Peugeot 5008, into second place. The 5008’s decline was not as severe as many of the other models in the top 10 because its engine lineup includes a 1.2-liter turbocharged gasoline variant. Moving to electrify models looks to be a good option if the impressive sales figures for the Mitsubishi Outlander are any indication. Despite being one of the oldest models in the segment, the Outlander’s first-quarter sales increased by 48 %, pushing it into third place, largely due to the success of its plug-in hybrid version. “Right now there is not a big choice in the sector if the consumer wants an alternative to gasoline or diesel”, JATO’s Munoz said. Adding an electric motor and battery makes good sense for vehicles in the segment because they can absorb the extra technology both in terms of space and of price, where the premium is less noticeable than it would be in a smaller car. If it’s a plug-in hybrid, this can also cut CO2 to less than 50 grams per kilometer, which helps customers lower their vehicle taxes. The next Kia Sorento will come with a plug-in hybrid derivative, while Volkswagen already sells the Tiguan Allspace as a plug-in hybrid in China, suggesting that the variant may be added in Europe to boost the Allspace’s sales from its already solid fourth-place position. Plug-in hybrid versions of the Kodiaq and 5008 also look likely as Skoda and Peugeot, respectively, roll out the technology on cars built on the same platforms as their midsize SUVs. Meanwhile buyers for the new Toyota RAV4 full-hybrid are facing waits of 4 to 6 months on average and 10 months in some markets due to strong demand, Toyota says. Autointernationaal.nl considers the RAV4 a compact SUV, but size-wise it’s at the upper end of the segment. Had I classed it as a midsize SUV, it would have topped the segment after April sales jumped 18 % to 7,086, according to JATO. Opel meanwhile has promised it will enter the segment with a 7-seat SUV that will offer a plug-in hybrid option. The new model would share its platform with the Peugeot 5008. The rollout has been delayed from Opel’s initial promise of this year to 2021, according to an estimate from analysts LMC Automotive. The addition of the Opel plus other new models such as the Jeep Wagoneer and the production version of the Volkswagen ID.Crozz EV will help the sector resume growing, LMC believes. The firm regards the first-quarter slump as temporary, predicting that sales will grow to 337,000 this year and surpass 400,000 in 2021. But electrification will be key to the segment’s continued survival. +++ 

+++ TOYOTA will supply key hydrogen fuel-cell parts to Chinese automakers FAW and Higer Bus, as the Japanese automaker tries to promote the technology it continues to view as superior to rapidly spreading battery-powered vehicles. Toyota is betting the move, part of a broader offensive, will help push rapid adoption of fuel-cell technology in China. Fuel-cell cars use a stack of cells that electro-chemically combine hydrogen with oxygen to generate electricity to propel the vehicle, with water being the only byproduct. Toyota, along with peers Honda, Hyundai and Daimler, has been trying to promote the technology for nearly 2 decades. But efforts have been hampered by the technology’s high price tag and lack of refueling infrastructure. “Toyota hopes to cooperate with more Chinese commercial vehicle companies”, Toyota said in a statement, to “promote the application and popularization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCV) in China”. The Japanese carmaker will supply fuel-cell components to China’s FAW Group and Higer Bus, with Shanghai Re-Fire Technology acting as local supplier. Re-Fire will be system integrator and develop fuel-cell powertrain technology that the Chinese automakers can use to make hydrogen buses, Toyota officials told. Similarly, Toyota in April said it had started supplying fuel-cell parts to Chinese commercial vehicle makers Beiqi Foton and Beijing SinoHytec. +++

+++ The California Public Utilities Commission has granted WAYMO a permit to participate in the state’s autonomous vehicle passenger service pilot program. With the permit, Alphabet’s self-driving division can provide rides to Waymo employees and guests within a limited service area in South Bay, including the neighborhoods of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos hills, and Palo Alto. A human safety driver must remain behind the wheel at all times. While California’s DMV has granted autonomous vehicle testing permits to more than 60 companies, Waymo is only the 4th to be given the go-ahead to participate in the service pilot program, joining Zoox, Autox Technologies and Pony.ai. “This is the next step on our path to eventually expand and offer more Californians opportunities to access our self-driving technology, just as we have gradually done with Waymo One in Metro Phoenix”, a Waymo spokesperson said. Waymo is the only company to be granted permission to test fully self-driving vehicles without human drives onboard in California’s public roads. The company is also operating an autonomous ride-hailing fleet in Phoenix, Arizona, with 400 volunteer test riders and a human safety driver behind the wheel in case anything goes wrong. Waymo has no defined timetable as to when it plans on launching a commercial self-driving ride-hailing service in the Golden State, though that is its final aim. Waymo’s fleet consists primarily of Chrysler Pacificas, though autonomous Jaguar I-Pace SUVs are slowly being introduced. +++

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