Waymo is opening a $13.6 million self-driving car facility in the Detroit area

Detroit skylineRebecca Cook/Reuters

  • Waymo, Google's self-driving car spinoff, will invest $13.6 million in the Detroit area to revamp a facility that will outfit cars with self-driving features.
  • The Michigan Economic Development Corporation granted Waymo, based in Mountain View, California, $8 million for the facility.
  • Waymo said the company picked Southeastern Michigan because of its "excellent snowy conditions" and local talent.

Michigan boasts more connected and automated vehicle projects than any other state, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

And, as announced Tuesday, the Midwestern state will employ up to 400 more folks in self-driving cars in the coming years. Waymo said it will build its self-driving vehicles at a Metro Detroit facility.

It will be the first factory in the world dedicated to mass producing L4 autonomous vehicles, according to Waymo, which was spun off from Google in 2016.

"As we begin to commercialize our business and vehicle supply grows, we're laying the foundation for a scalable, robust vehicle integration plan, starting in Michigan," Waymo said in a blog post announcing the new facility.

Waymo said it received an $8 million grant from the MEDC to revamp the facility, which will employ up to 400 engineers, operations experts, fleet coordinators, and others. Waymo's investment will total $13.6 million.

Read more: Here's why a little-known autonomous trucking company is beating Tesla and Waymo in the race for driverless big rigs

At the facility, whose location hasn't been announced, Waymo will outfit its self-driving hardware and software into vehicles including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rovers.

Waymo hasn't yet signed a lease on the facility, the MEDC told The Detroit News. The space will be in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne county - the three counties that comprise Detroit and its suburban surroundings. The MEDC did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for a comment.

Waymo has tested self-driving vehicles in Michigan since 2017, and engineers in the state are already installing Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans with Waymo technology. The state is ideal for a self-driving car office because of its "excellent snowy conditions" and local automotive engineering talent, Waymo said.

"The company really could have gone anywhere," MEDC CEO Jeff Mason told The Detroit News on a media call Tuesday morning. "This is another great example of a company from the West coast really seeing the advantages Michigan has to integrate both engineering and manufacturing, find high-tech talent and where the company can grow and prosper."

In Arizona, where Waymo has a robust presence, locals aren't as keen about the self-driving car company. According to nearly dozens of police reports from suburban Phoenix, residents have pulled guns on and slashed the tires of Waymo cars.

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