Avis Budget Group has made a deal to manage and maintain Waymo’s fleet of self-driving cars.
But you’re still going have to drive your own rental car for the foreseeable future. Avis and Budget aren’t renting Waymo’s autonomous minivans out to regular customers.
Instead, Avis Budget will handle things like oil changes, tire rotations and cleaning for Waymo’s fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.
Waymo is the autonomous car technology subsidiary of Alphabet, the company formerly known as Google.
Waymo is rolling out a service in Phoenix, Ariz., that will allow people to ride in its self-driving vehicles with a professional driver in the driver’s seat to monitor the vehicle and ensure safety. Area residents who want to use the service, which would operate like a taxi service, can apply to Waymo to become participants. The collaboration with Avis will initially support that program.
But the arrangement will allow Waymo to expand the service more easily around the nation — and, perhaps, globally — without having to deal with the minutiae of housing, cleaning and servicing the vehicles.
“Avis Budget Group is an ideal partner to provide fleet support and maintenance,” said John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer of Waymo. “With thousands of locations around the world, Avis Budget Group can help us bring our technology to more people, in more places.”
Avis Budget Group operates 11,000 rental locations around the world.
The deal will help Avis learn more about self-driving cars, a technology that has obvious implications for the car rental and car-sharing business. Avis Budget Group also owns the car sharing company Zipcar which rents cars out for short periods of time from parking garages and other locations.
Avis Budget shares jumped 11% in late-morning trading. Shares of Avis competitor Hertz also rose following a report that Apple leased some cars from a Hertz subsidiary for self-driving technology testing.