Waymo has selected a Detroit plant that will mass produce its self-driving cars, placing the Google-owned venture that aims to define the future of transportation in the historic heart of a U.S. automotive industry that is trying to compete against the tech upstart in the launch of autonomous vehicles.
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The company will partner with American Axle & Manufacturing to repurpose a facility that Waymo hopes will be operational by mid-2019, it said in a blog post on Tuesday.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, touted the announcement as the latest in the growing presence of Silicon Valley companies in the state.
“By choosing to establish its new facility in Detroit, Waymo is continuing the city’s momentum and further cementing Michigan as a leader in mobility and the epicenter of advanced automotive manufacturing,” she said in a statement.
Waymo develops the software for its autonomous vehicles but has outsourced the production to partners like Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover.
The company was the first to launch its commercial fleet, beating rivals like General Motors and Uber in providing the offering to select customers in Phoenix, Ariz. in December 2018.
|GM||GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY||36.06||-1.20||-3.22%|
|F||FORD MOTOR COMPANY||8.77||-0.27||-2.99%|
|FCA||FIRST TR EXCH TRADED ALPHADEX FD II CHINA ALPHADEX FD||23.54||-0.42||-1.75%|
The investment in Detroit comes as traditional carmakers both double-down on the city and end existing operations.
GM, for example, is closing its Detroit factory in 2020 as part of a previously announced slew of closures that are expected to lead to 15,000 jobs cuts.
Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler said recently it would invest $4.5 billion in its plants in the region, spurring as many as 6,500 jobs in Michigan as the company seeks to shift its offerings to align with consumer preference for pickups and sports utility vehicles.
Ford Motor Co. is also pouring money into its Michigan plants, including the carmaker’s first plant for self-driving vehicles. It does not expect the facility to begin production until 2021.