June 20 (UPI) -- Waymo announced Thursday it has signed a deal with Renault and Nissan to develop autonomous vehicles in France and Japan, along with other countries in the future.
The project, now a subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, hailed the agreement as the first step to developing long-term, profitable driverless vehicle services. The deal allows Waymo to tap into the Groupe Renault, Nissan Motor Company and Mitsubishi Motors alliance, the world's largest such commercial auto partnership.
The companies sold nearly 11 million vehicles in almost 200 countries last year. Waymo will provide technology and services to each automaker as they develop their own self-driving vehicles.
"This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global stage, with an innovative partner," Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a statement.
The deal comes at a challenging time for the relationship between Renault and Nissan, stemming from the arrest last October of executive Carlos Ghosn on fraud charges. Ghosen was CEO of Renault and chair of the Nissan.
"Our expertise in the global automotive industry and expertise in strategic partnership will enable us to explore opportunities," Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said.