Avis Budget Group to service Waymo's self-driving fleet

RPT-Apple working with Hertz to test self-driving technology - BBG (AAPL, HTZ)

PARSIPPANY, N.J. (AP) — Avis is teaming up with Waymo on a self-driving vehicle program.

Working with Avis allows Alphabet to put more self-driving cars on the road for its autonomous ride-hailing program, according to a company spokesperson. The agreement is set for a multi-year span, but it isn't exclusive, meaning Waymo could arrange similar deals with other rental service providers should it choose to do so. Avis will also be supplying fleet maintenance for Waymo.

Part of Avis' appeal for Waymo, according to Bloomberg, is its ownership of Zipcar, the on-demand vehicle sharing network that Avis acquired in 2013.

It's an agreement that makes sense for both parties as Waymo inks a deal with a company that already has a network of traditional cars and customers. Within the past few years, the field has seen heavy investment for software and cars by companies ranging from Apple to Nvidia. Phoenix is the site of Waymo's first commercial self-driving auto service, with the Alphabet-owned company launching an on-demand ride pilot in the Arizona city earlier this year.

"We are excited to partner with Waymo, the self-driving technology leader that is changing the mobility landscape in a profoundly transformative and beneficial manner", said Avis president and CEO Larry De Shon.

This partnership is the first major one involving oversight of driverless vehicle fleets, a business opening that could help the technology spread.

Avis has a system of cleaning and maintaining cars, including basic services like oil changes and tire changes, that it can provide for self-driving vehicles. "With thousands of locations around the world, Avis Budget Group can help us bring our technology to more people, in more places", he went on to say. "This just demonstrates that we can extend our business into fleet-management-as-a-service".

The partnership aims to support Waymo's ever-growing fleet of autonomous vehicles and its early rider program, which has a public trial in Phoenix.

Shares for Avis surged in the wake of the news.

Part of the reason for this partnership is the increased stresses these self-driving vehicles will experience.

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.

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