Waymo and Zeekr Join Forces to Create Purpose-Built Robotaxi

There’s no such thing as an autonomous car nowadays, but Waymo is getting closer and closer to offering that tech. With that in mind, it decided to leave vehicle development with people who know how to do it to focus on the technology itself. Its first purpose-built robotaxi will not come from an American company but rather from a Chinese one: Zeekr.
Waymo and Zeekr will partner to create purpose-built robotaxis 14 photos
Photo: Zeekr
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The new brand is the most recent from a wide variety under Geely’s umbrella. After revealing the Zeekr 001 – nothing more than a badge-engineered Lynk & Co Zero Concept – the Chinese luxury brand probably decided its next vehicle could be a ride driven by software.

In the images released by Geely and Waymo, a stylish minivan with vast doors, regular seats, and no steering wheel is the first proposition for Waymo’s autonomous car. Zeekr stresses the vehicle is under development at CEVT (China Europe Vehicle Technology Centre) in Gothenburg, Sweden. However, production will indeed happen in one of Geely’s factories in its home country.

The companies inform that the still-unnamed minivan will sit on “a new proprietary and open-source mobility architecture.” It is probably the SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture) unless Geely is working on a new platform. Not by chance, the first vehicle to use this platform was the Zeekr 001.

The Chinese company will develop the Waymo vehicle “with a fully configurable cabin, both with and without driver controls.” Waymo will be in charge of taking delivery of these vans in the U.S. and integrating “its fully autonomous Waymo Driver into the vehicle platform.” Again, the Waymo Driver is not yet fully developed.

For Waymo, this is the perfect opportunity to tell a car company how it needs a vehicle to be. Currently, it is adapting production vehicles to work with its technology. For Zeekr, the benefit is to have Waymo present it as a credible automaker to American customers. Geely is probably looking even further: when Waymo Driver is finished, the partnership may help the Chinese car company integrate it into its vehicles.

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Editor's note: The gallery includes images of the Zeekr 001, Geely's first vehicle with the SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture).

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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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