Waymo, a leading autonomous vehicle (AV) company, has announced that it will be phasing out its fleet of Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid (PHEV) minivans, which had been an integral part of its AV operations for the past seven years. Instead, Waymo will rely on all-electric vehicles, such as the Jaguar I-Pace and Geely’s Zeekr van, for its fifth-generation autonomous driving platform.
Despite initially striking a deal with FCA (now Stellantis) in 2018 to purchase “thousands” of Pacifica minivans, Waymo received less than 1,000 minivans with its technology. While the Pacifica had some advantages, including a spacious interior and comfortable ride, it also had limitations, such as being less environmentally friendly and having technical issues with braking and inclement weather.
Nevertheless, the Pacifica played an important role in Waymo’s testing and development efforts. Waymo extensively used the minivans in its initial pilot program in Chandler, Arizona, and later in its ride-hailing service, Waymo One, which launched in 2018.
Waymo’s decision to phase out the Pacifica in favor of all-electric vehicles aligns with its commitment to sustainability and state regulations requiring all AVs to be electric by 2030. Waymo is not alone in this transition, as competitors such as Cruise, Zoox, and Motional are also embracing electric vehicles, indicating a growing trend in the industry.
As for the Waymo Chrysler Pacificas, the majority of the minivans will be recycled, while a few will be preserved for historical purposes.