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Waymo is turning to Detroit to build its first self-driving car factory

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  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It seems that Silicon Valley needs the Motor City.

Alphabet subsidiary Waymo, not to be outdone by its sister company Wing, announced today (April 23) that it had selected a facility in Detroit, Michigan, to house the company’s first factory dedicated to building autonomous vehicles. The company first hinted at working in Detroit back in January.

Waymo is working with the component company American Axle & Manufacturing to convert an existing factory in the traditional heart of the US’s car-making industry up and have it running before the end of 2019.

Waymo has worked with established manufacturers like Fiat-Chrysler and Jaguar to add autonomous hardware on top of existing designs. Waymo will be leasing a building on American Axle’s campus and refitting it. The facility will primarily be used to install autonomous hardware and software in Chrysler Pacifica minivans and Jaguar I-Pace SUVs the company has purchased, Waymo told Quartz.

The move comes as fewer Americans (paywall) are getting drivers’ licenses, more people are using ride-sharing services instead of owning cars, and startups are making cars that are beginning to drive themselves. Waymo’s choice suggests that even in a time of great upheaval in the US auto industry, tech companies interested in automotive technologies are still turning to those who historically have had the expertise.

Waymo has been expanding its commercial autonomous ride-hailing test service in the Phoenix, Arizona area, ahead of a wider launch.

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