Waymo has been planning to open up a factory in Michigan in order to retrofit its fleet of Chrysler Pacifica and Jaguar I-Pace vehicles with self-driving technology. And now Waymo — which is owned by Google parent company Alphabet — has selected a location for its Detroit-based factory. And it is expected to be operational by the middle of the year.
“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,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer via Medium. “More and more Silicon Valley companies are looking to grow in Michigan as they realize the competitive advantages Michigan has to offer: high-tech engineering resources, top-notch research and design, and a highly skilled workforce matched with a low cost of living and low cost of doing business. We are pleased to welcome Waymo to Detroit and look forward to working with the company as it moves forward and brings jobs to Michigan residents.”
To open the factory, Waymo has partnered with American Axle & Manufacturing. And it will be the “world’s first factory 100% dedicated to the mass production of L4 autonomous vehicles.”
In a statement, Waymo pointed out that it is bringing a workforce back to an area where jobs were recently lost in the automotive industry. “Additionally, thanks to our wonderful neighbors at American Axle & Manufacturing and Bedrock for helping Waymo find the perfect home in Motor City. We’re thrilled to join Detroit’s vibrant community, helping to play a role in the future of the automotive industry in the city that started it all,” added Waymo. And the company pointed out that the city of Detroit has a strong pool of talent across engineering, fleet coordination, and operations.
The facility also includes the flexibility to continue to grow and expand operations in Michigan over time. When the plant opens, it will create at least 100 jobs and the expansion could lead to 400 more jobs.
When the facility opens, some of the self-driving technology that will be implemented into the fleet of vehicles will include LIDAR, cameras, radar, and passenger screens.
As of May, Waymo now owns up to 62,000 Pacifica vehicles. And Waymo is currently testing integration with Jaguar’s all-electric I-Pace with plans to buy around 20,000 of those vehicles in the next few years.