Avis signs on to manage Waymo's self-driving vehicle fleet in Phoenix

The Apple Inc. store is seen on the day of the new iPhone 7 smartphone launch in Los Angeles

U.S. vehicle rental giant Avis Budget announced Monday it will team up with Waymo on the self-driving cars being tested on Arizona roads.

"With members of the public using our growing fleet of self-driving cars, our vehicles need standard maintenance and cleaning so they're ready for our riders at any time of the day or night", Waymo chief executive John Krafcik said in a joint statement.

Avis Budget Group Inc. said Monday that it will provide fleet support and maintenance services for Waymo's program at its Avis and Budget auto rental locations. The services offered by Avis Budget Group include interior and exterior cleaning, oil changes, tire rotations, and the checking, ordering and installation of automotive parts, as well as other necessary fleet support and maintenance.

Waymo, owned by Google parent company Alphabet Inc., will continue to own and run its self-driving cars and will continue with its existing partnerships.

Investors bid Avis shares up by as much as 21 per cent on Monday, the biggest intraday percentage gain for the stock in more than five years.


The agreement, first reported by Bloomberg, will see Avis service and house Waymo's fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Phoenix.

The move also underscores the importance of autonomous driving technology for companies like Waymo.

The maintenance deal does not appear to extend to the actual rental of self-driving cars; riders who wish to use Waymo's vehicles now must apply for permission to participate in the company's early rider program. GM has a large network of franchised dealers that could provide fleet management services, as well as an alliance with Lyft and its own Maven car-sharing unit.

Avis Budget has about 11,000 company-owned and licensed car-rental locations around the world, according to securities filings.

Avis will retrofit select facilities in the Phoenix area to accommodate Waymo's minivans. Waymo is also collaborating with Lyft to bring self-driving cars into the mainstream.

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