The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is not expected to reach the hands of anxiously waiting customers in the pre-order line until the final days of August. It appears، however، as though Waymo has jumped that queue. According to TechCrunch، the mobility arm of Alphabet، A.K.A. Google، has taken delivery of the first three examples and they can now be seen driving about the streets of San Francisco. As you can see in the photo above، although the all-electric crossovers are branded with Waymo Engineering markings، they have yet to be fitted with the gear that will make them autonomous. The sensor suite، which includes LIDAR، involves equipment mounted on the roof as well as on the front end، just below the grill، and both front fenders. According to a statement supplied to TechCrunch by Waymo، the company is now just “…testing the vehicle’s performance on roads to generate self-driving system design requirements and develop durability tests.” While some of us would be quite content to have even a single Jaguar I-Pace، Waymo has 20،000 examples on order، which should be delivered over the next two years. Eventually، these should be all be part of an enormous ride-hailing fleet which will also include as m any as 62،000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. The I-Pace has a 90 kWh battery and should have a range of about 240 miles، while the Pacifica Hybrid can only offer around 33 miles of gasoline-free driving.
We are somewhat torn at the prospect of them being used as autonomous vehicles. While they will certainly ferry passengers sedately around in quiet comfort، we have to say our time behind the wheel leaves us hungry for the driving experience it can offer. Since، we imagine، they will all still be equipped with steering wheels، perhaps manual driving might be an option worth Waymo’s consideration.