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Waymo adding up to 20,000 electric Jaguar SUVs to its self-driving fleet

Waymo announced Tuesday that it was launching a self-driving Jaguar SUV, in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover. (Waymo)

Waymo, the former Google self-driving car division that made its name with its pod-like driverless car prototypes, will make its foray into luxury cars beginning this year.

The autonomous vehicle pioneer said Tuesday it will add up to 20,000 Jaguar SUVs to its lineup in a partnership with Jaguar Land Rover.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik announced the deal at a press event in New York, saying the company will add the Jaguar I-PACE models to its fleet for its eventual fully-autonomous ride-hailing service expected to launch later this year. The tech company is already piloting a ride-hailing service with a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Arizona.

But the new SUVs from Jaguar, said Krafcik, represent the “world’s first premium electric, fully self-driving car.”

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Waymo plans to begin testing the I-PACE models this year, and the fully-self-driving models are expected to be in service from 2020 onward, according to a company spokeswoman.

Krafcik called it “the self-driving car that car lovers have been looking for.”

Though specifics were not immediately known, Waymo and Jaguar officials said they had entered into a long-term partnership, beginning with the delivery of up to 20,000 I-PACE models over two years. Those 20,000 vehicles, Krafcik said, could provide about a million trips a day.

“We can make this premium experience accessible for everyone,” he said.