Avis to manage Waymo's self-driving cars

Cesar Mills
June 26, 2017

Waymo, the self-driving auto unit of Alphabet Inc, has signed an agreement with Avis Budget Group Inc under which the USA auto rental firm will manage its fleet of autonomous vehicles, the companies said on Monday. The services offered by Avis Budget Group include interior and exterior cleaning, oil changes, tire rotations, and the checking, ordering and installation of automotive parts, as well as other necessary fleet support and maintenance.

'We are excited to partner with Waymo, the self-driving technology leader that is changing the mobility landscape in a profoundly transformative and beneficial manner, ' said Larry De Shon, president and chief executive officer, Avis Budget Group. (NASDAQ:CAR) stock was up on Monday following news of a deal with Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ:GOOG,GOOGL) Waymo.

Alphabet's driverless-car unit Waymo is ramping up a program it launched in April in Phoenix to eventually give hundreds of selected residents there free rides in its self-driving cars. On Waymo's end, the Alphabet company now can outsource the day-to-day maintenance on its self-driving fleet and focus purely on development and research.

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Avis' shares rose as much as 21 percent to $29.32 in morning trading, recording their biggest intraday percentage gain in more than five years. Avis locations will be reworked to accommodate Waymo's vehicles without acquiring additional space.

Maintenance and support are both vital components in the race to launch self-driving vehicle services, and by utilizing rental locations, Waymo will take advantage of established locations to keep the cars serviced and on the road.

Avis Budget Group operates 11,000 rental locations around the world. The collaboration with Avis will initially support that program. As for the Avis Budget Group, the partnership gives the company a foothold in the growing autonomous vehicle market.

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