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Waymo picks Detroit factory for self-driving fleet, operational by mid-2019

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc Waymo said on Tuesday it had chosen for a plant in Detroit to mass produce self-driving cars, looking for the historic heart of the auto industry to build vehicles of the future.

FILE PHOTO: Waymo CEO John Krafcik speaks on stage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View, California, May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

The chief executive, John Krafcik, said in a blog post that Waymo would partner with American Axle & Manufacturing, leasing and re-use of an existing Detroit facility operational by mid-2019.

Waymo said in January it had chosen Michigan for the first production installation to add would be receiving incentives from the public-private partnership agency, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and create up to 400 jobs over time, solely in connection with self-control.

In a sea of rivals, Waymo is generally seen as a forward in the self-driving race. It works all of a robotaxi service in Arizona, and planning a geographical expansion of the course of the time.

The global car manufacturers, large technology companies and startups are all involved in self-driving efforts, but experts expect that it will still take years before the systems are ready to be rolled out in all areas, software and regulations are among the many challenges.

Waymo is to compete with rivals General Motors and Uber Technologies to deploy such vehicles are intended for the masses. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also announced that the company plans to launch a robotaxi service in 2020.

Waymo, who has been working on self-driving technology for a decade, provided a few new details.

It is currently retrofits Chrysler Pacifica minivans to be used in the robotaxi fleet.

In March 2018, Waymo said that it would be diversification of the fleet, together with Jaguar to produce up to 20,000 vehicles by 2022, it is able to control the behavior of about 1 million rides per day.

American Axle, which Waymo is the cooperation for the Detroit facility, was established in 1994 as an investment team purchased five plants that General Motors had put up for sale.

GM plans to end output at the last Detroit factory next year, after the announcement in November a plan to stop production at five North American plants and cut about 15,000 jobs.

Fiat-Chrysler, however, said in February it would invest $4.5 billion in five plants and the creation of 6,500 jobs in Michigan.

In January, Waymo said that the plan was to hire engineers, operations experts, fleet coordinators, and others to retrofit vehicles with its self-driving technology.

Both GM and Ford Motor Co have said they will build autonomous vehicles in Michigan factories.

Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by with the ipad has Himani

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