Waymo to Open Michigan Assembly Facility

Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo self-driving car unit plans to open a plant in southeast Michigan to retrofit Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans and Jaguar i-Pace electric cars with the tech company’s sensor and control technologies.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. approved an $8 million grant for the project on Tuesday. Total investment in the plant is expected to total nearly $14 million.

Waymo says it is looking for a “ready-to-go” site with as much as 200,000-sq-ft of space for light manufacturing. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is in talks with several potential locations and aims to start moving in by this summer.

As part of the deal with MEDC, the facility must be operational by the end of 2021 and employ at least 100 people by that time. Waymo envisions hiring as many as 400 people—including engineers, operations experts and fleet coordinators—in the area by 2025.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles produces the Pacifica in nearby Windsor, Ont. Waymo models (pictured) currently are shipped to a facility in Novi, Mich., where they outfitted with company’s self-driving software and hardware systems.

Waymo’s self-driving fleet has accumulated more than 10 million miles of testing on public roads in 25 cities across the U.S. Most of the testing to date has been done in Arizona.

Last year, FCA announced plans to open a test facility for autonomous vehicles at the company’s proving grounds in Chelsea, Mich.