FCA US today announces a 100-fold increase in the number of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans it will add to Waymo’s self-driving vehicle fleet, with amped-up deliveries beginning late this year.

The partnership between FCA and Waymo calls for the Auburn Hills, MI-based automaker to provide up to 62,000 of its gasoline-electric minivans to Waymo, vastly expanding the driverless transportation fleet beyond the 600 Pacifica Hybrids delivered since the two companies began the collaboration in mid-2016.

The latest announcement also suggests the possibility of retail sales of an FCA-branded self-driving vehicle using Waymo’s technology under a licensing deal between the two entities.

“FCA is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne says. “Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront.” 

Waymo is on target to launch the world’s first autonomous ride service later this year, the California-based company says.

“Waymo’s goal from day one has been to build the world’s most experienced driver and give people access to self-driving technology that will make our roads safer,” says Waymo CEO John Krafcik. “We’re excited to deepen our relationship with FCA that will support the launch of our driverless service, and explore future products that support Waymo’s mission.”

FCA and Waymo engineers have been working together since 2016 to develop a fully autonomous minivan, recording some 6 million miles (9.6 million km) of on-road testing in 25 U.S. cities.

General Motors today announced a $3.35 billion investment by SoftBank Vision Fund and GM in its autonomous-vehicle unit, GM Cruise, to accelerate development of self-driving vehicles.

bgritzinger@wardsauto.com @bobgritzinger