Avis teams up with Waymo on self-driving car program

Avis stock was up as much as 17% Monday morning, after announcing that it partnered with Waymo, the self-driving vehicle division of Google's parent company Alphabet.

The relationship between the companies provides insight on an emerging ecosystem for self-driving cars.

That alliance teamed Waymo and Lyft against controversy-dented ride-sharing giant Uber, which is racing to develop its own self-driving vehicles, and which is locked in a bitter legal dispute with Waymo. The company didn't disclose deal terms. Hence this Waymo-Avis deal. Avis Budget Group operates most of its vehicle rental offices in North America, Europe and Australia directly, and operates primarily through licensees in other parts of the world.

Waymo's test is an effort to understand where regular people want to go with self-driving cars, and how they interact with them.

Waymo recently said it was adding hundreds of Chrysler Pacifica minivans to build a 600-vehicle fleet. Waymo also has 70 Lexus vehicles.

The partnership aims to support Waymo's fleet and its early rider program, which has a public trial in Phoenix.

Back in April, we reported on Waymo's plans to offer an autonomous ride-hailing service in Phoenix, Arizona. Waymo now handles maintenance on its own. Down the road, Waymo potentially could draw from the Avis Group's existing network of facilities and customers.

Officials highlighted this partnership will allow Avis Budget Group to service Waymo's growing number of cars on the road, ensuring Waymo's self-driving vehicles are ready for riders around the clock.

The Avis partnership shows how Alphabet is building out an ecosystem for its autonomous business.

A public trial of the partnership is taking place in Phoenix through Waymo's early rider program, the company's first commercial self-driving auto service.

Because the partnership is nonexclusive, Avis will be free to partner with other self-driving manufacturers, and Alphabet will be free to work with other rental services.

Meanwhile, Apple is leasing a fleet of cars from Hertz in its own test of self-driving technology, according to Bloomberg.

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