Google is reportedly readying to expand its Waze carpool service in the San Francisco Bay Area. This will put Google in direct competition with Uber and Lyft, as both companies also offer carpool services.
The report comes from a person familiar with the matter speaking to The Wall Street Journal. Google began a pilot program for Waze Carpool earlier this year, but limited it to several thousand SF Bay Area workers.
Rides will cost a maximum of 54 cents per mile, making Waze Carpool a much cheaper alternative to other ride-sharing services. Google is also not taking any cut of the profits for now.
If the Journal report is correct, Google will expand Waze Carpool to allow all SF Bay Area residents this fall to sign up to become either a driver or rider. If successful, the service would expand to other cities, said the person familiar with Google’s plans.
Google’s plans to expand into ride-sharing could sour its relationship with Uber even further. While Google initially invested $258 million (about £197 million, AU$343 million) in 2013, the two companies have increasingly seen each other as rivals.
Uber started chose Google Maps as its preferred mapping service, but announced it would start its own mapping service to reduce its dependence on Google. Uber also reportedly shut out executives from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, from its board meetings. Today, Alphabet exec David Drummond resigned from Uber’s board, citing the increasing competition between the companies.
Google and Uber’s rivalry continues into the self-driving car space as well. Google spent years developing its self-driving car, and is getting ready to deploy them. Uber also invested heavily into autonomous car research, and will start giving customers rides in its self-driving Volvo later this month.
While Waze Carpool is a great way to coordinate carpool drivers and riders, it’s not a full-fledged ride-sharing service like Uber and Lyft. Google will also have to tackle many of the challenges plaguing ride-sharing services like vetting and offering employee rights to its drivers.
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