Published: Sat, July 01, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Apple's Self-Driving Car Testbeds Are Leased from Hertz, Report Says

Apple's Self-Driving Car Testbeds Are Leased from Hertz, Report Says

The tech businesses get all that auto maintenance expertise the vehicle rental companies know so well, like keeping up with oil changes and tire replacement.

The two pairings will serve different purposes for the companies involved, but both point to one of the practical concerns about self-driving cars: managing the vehicle fleets once they're free from drivers. The Waymo-Avis deal points to a potential future for rental auto companies as managers for fleets of shared and autonomous vehicles require their services changing tires, cleaning interiors, and securing vehicles when they are not in operation.

This is the first announced deal between a rental-car company and businesses that are involved in self-driving vehicles.

California requires companies that want to test autonomous vehicles on the roads to register for an autonomous driving permit.

Under the multi-year agreement, Avis will modify selected rental facilities to offer automotive services and secure parking for Waymo's fleet. Waymo's vans will depend on Avis service centers for routine vehicle maintenance - think interior and exterior cleaning, oil changes, and tire rotations - and for parking while they're not on the road.

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The collaboration is meant to support Waymo's growing autonomous vehicle fleet and Waymo's early rider program.

Avis also owns the car-sharing company Zipcar.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik acknowledged the potential for a future expansion of the partnership to Bloomberg following the deal's announcement. The documents show Hertz's Donlen fleet-management subsidiary as the lessor for the vehicles, and Apple as the lessee.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment and a representative from Hertz didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, according to the report. Hertz surged on news of the agreement with Apple, bringing its intraday gain to as much as 18 percent, the biggest rise since July 2015. Partnerships and acquisitions are the key to creating the best autonomous system, with billions of dollars on the line.

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