Renault-Nissan partners with Waymo for self-driving tech

by Felix Page, Autocar UK 20 Jun 2019


Renault and Nissan have announced initial details of a new partnership with self-driving technology development company Waymo. 

The two car makers, sharing autonomous vehicle development as part of the Alliance, will work with the California software giant to “explore all aspects of driverless mobility services” in France and Japan. 

The companies offered no details of any planned vehicle testing, but said research will be carried out to assess the issues surrounding driverless transportation. 

The Alliance said its diverse global line-up of commercial and passenger vehicles will allow it to explore the potential uses of autonomous technology in both the passenger transportation and goods delivery sectors. 

While initial research will be carried out in the two car makers’ home countries, expansion to other markets is planned, with China a likely future option. 

Thierry Bollore, Groupe Renault CEO, said: “We believe this partnership will accelerate our commitment to deliver new shared mobility services and benefit the automobile ecosystems by placing us at the forefront of driverless mobility new business streams in our key strategic markets.”

The three-way deal comes after weeks of speculation that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is in dire straits. Carlos Ghosn’s forced exit late last year set off a chain reaction that, reports suggest, has resulted in drastically under-occupied departments, a confused future plan and unequal product output. 

A Renault and Fiat-Chrysler merger was on the cards until recently, one of the benefits of which would have been that Renault could have gained learning from FCA’s existing deal with Waymo. This now seems unnecessary, given Renault-Nissan's own partnership with the tech developer.

Renault’s own autonomous ambitions have come to play an integral role in its product development strategy. In 2017, the company revealed the Symbioz as a vision of what an autonomous, connected vehicle would look like in 2030, and 2018’s futuristic EZ-Ultimo concept took the form of a self-driving mobile lounge. 

The Alliance aims to have 15 cars with autonomous capabilities on the market by 2022, as part of a six-year ‘Drive the Future’ expansion programme. 

Waymo, Google’s self-driving arm, ramped up its efforts to bring autonomous vehicles to the mainstream last year when it obtained 20,000 I-Pace electric SUVs from Jaguar. At the time, company boss John Krafcik said the new partnership made the UK a more likely test location for self-driving technology.