Waymo Announces Collaboration With China’s Zeekr To Develop New Driverless EV Fleet

Zeekr, the premium electric brand of Geely Holding Group, will collaborate with Alphabet's Waymo LLC to develop a new pure electric vehicle (EV) for deployment in the Waymo One autonomous ride-hailing fleet in the U.S.

Concept art of Waymo's new EV with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. / Credit: Waymo | Zhejiang Geely Holding Group

Both companies announced the collaboration on 28 December 2021. According to their statements, Zeekr will handle the designing and development of the EV on a new proprietary and open-source mobility architecture. Waymo, meanwhile, will take on the vehicles' delivery in the U.S., where it will integrate them into its autonomous taxi platform.


The new EV, which will be designed and developed at Zeekr's R&D facility in Sweden, is reported to be rider-centric with autonomous use-cases and the riders' comfort in mind. The vehicle's cabin has a B-pillarless design and a flat floor for easier entry and exit from the car. It also has a low step-in height, fully adjustable seats and a generous amount of head and legroom.

(Concept art of the interior and exterior of the new Waymo autonomous taxi EV. / Waymo | Zhejiang Geely Holding Group)

The cabin is also fully configurable to meet rider requirements. Although the EV's concept art shows no pedals to be found and a screen has replaced the driver's steering wheel, riders can still opt to add driver controls. However, both companies have not clarified what "driver controls" mean.


Both companies have not disclosed the release of this new autonomous EV in their respective announcements. However, Waymo did say that they will introduce this rider-first EV "in the years to come".


The partnership between the two companies would allow Waymo to expand its autonomous ride-hailing service amidst fierce competition in the U.S. while also creating an avenue for Geely to enter the U.S. market.

 

Written by John Paul Joaquin

 

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