Waymo is widely agreed to be the furthest along when it comes to making an autonomous car that is some level of actually autonomous, as opposed to the ones that merely say they are. So it says something that Waymo said Tuesday that it was collaborating with Zeekr, the Geely-owned EV brand. Well, mostly it speaks to the credibility of Zeekr and Geely, since it’s hard to be sure about any new EV brand.
The Zeekr in question is not the 001, which it has already delivered thousands of, but instead a “new mobility-focused, all-electric” car that you can see above and below. This car was designed in Sweden, Waymo says, possibly (or not) with help from Geely-owned Volvo, also, of course, based in Sweden. The car is “fully autonomous, electric ride-hailing vehicle,” Waymo says, or a robotaxi, the dream of people who view taxi drivers as superfluous.
Over years to come, we’ll integrate our Waymo Driver into the transportation-as-a-service (TaaS)-optimized Zeekr vehicle designed to prioritize the comfort, convenience, and preferences of Waymo One riders. This rider-first vehicle features a flat floor for more accessible entry, easy ingress and egress thanks to a B-pillarless design, low step-in height, generous head and legroom, and fully adjustable seats. While ensuring a level of safety consistent with U.S. federal vehicle standards - our Waymo One riders will one day experience an interior without steering wheel and pedals, and with plenty of headroom, leg room and reclining seats, screens and chargers within arm’s reach, and an easy to configure and comfortable vehicle cabin.
The interior sure is pretty minimalist, though it might be provisional; if we are going to go down this robotaxi road, we should at least get creative on the inside, and two rows of seats, a dashboard, and a small screen are whatever the opposite of creative is. I’m thinking more along the lines of Volvo’s 360c Concept from over three years ago: a car to eat, sleep, fuck, or do whatever in.
Still, widespread rollout of robotaxis are a long ways away, so the issue isn’t quite pressing, for now. Waymo didn’t even bother to say when these Waymo Zeekrs would come out, which is the biggest clue; instead, it said they would get here “in the years to come.”