Friday, 24 November, 2017

Avis Budget Group Inc. (CAR) Stock Soars on Waymo Deal

The Apple Inc. store is seen on the day of the new iPhone 7 smartphone launch in Los Angeles Apple working with Hertz to manage small autonomous fleet
June Sullivan | 27 June, 2017, 11:20

The auto rental giant Avis has signed a contract with Alphabet's driverless-car division, Waymo, to service its first big fleet of autonomous vehicles.

Avis will store Waymo-owned Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Phoenix, where Google started a pilot program to test a driverless ride-hailing service with public volunteers. Avis also owns Zipcar, the on-demand car-rental service.

The agreement is a multiyear, although non-exclusive, deal. It'll also handle regular maintenance of Waymo's Pacificas, including cleaning and mechanical service. Avis locations will be reworked to accommodate Waymo's vehicles without acquiring additional space.

Not only does the partnership provide Waymo with a "network of traditional cars and customers that could be transformed into an autonomous transport service over time", but it is an opportunity for Avis to make its way into the self-driving vehicle business.

Alphabet and Avis Budget will work together on self-driving cars, the companies announced on Monday. Waymo has not disclosed how numerous 100 initial Chrysler vehicles are in the early-rider program, which is only in Phoenix. Still, the deal highlights the way that rental companies, with their nationwide scale and experience maintaining vehicle fleets, could become key players in the spread of self-driving technology.

Waymo and Avis did not say whether their partnership will expand to other cities, but John Krafcik, the head of Waymo, said in a statement that "with thousands of locations around the world, Avis Budget Group can help us bring our technology to more people, in more places. So it's important for us to get involved now", Avis CEO Larry De Shon said.

In pursuant to the pact, Avis will perform basic services on the vehicles like oil changes, as well as provide secure parking and cleaning.

If nothing else, then, existing rental firms might find that their fleet management skills can be sold as a service to the firms that are building out autonomous-car networks.

Technology stocks were the lone industry sector in the red today, with shares of tech companies in the S&P 500 sinking about 0.4% this afternoon. The move proved to be quite positive for the latter's share price, which rose by 12.5 percent this morning once news broke.

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