Alphabet partners with Avis to manage self-driving auto fleet

Let’s take a look at what we know about both projects and how the rental auto companies fit into the larger self-driving vehicle development landscape.Parsippany, N.J. -based Avis Avis said Monday that it signed an agreement with Waymo, a division of Google parent Alphabet Inc., to offer fleet support and maintenance services for Waymo’s self-driving auto program at Avis vehicle Rental and Budget vehicle Rental locations.According to a Bloomberg report, Apple rented Lexus RX450h SUVs from the Donlen fleet management unit of Hertz.They may be testing the vehicles with public volunteers. Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged earlier this month that his company intends to develop a system for self-driving cars, rather than a complete vehicle, that could then be sold to actual automakers.High expectations have surrounded Apple’s autonomous-driving program, known as Project Titan, for some time.Moving south from Mountain View to Cupertino, Apple’s deal with Hertz sees the iPhone maker signing a deal to lease six cars from Hertz for autonomous software testing. But if this “Apple Car” was part of the plan at some point, it certainly isn’t anymore.Apple’s auto project has endured its own problems over the past year.Apple would have faced significant challenges building its own cars, which requires manufacturing expertise and infrastructure the company simply doesn’t have.Well, Waymo and Apple are much more interested in the underlying technology and patents of self-driving cars than the management of the vehicles themselves. However, upon news of the partnership with Apple, Hertz shares increased by 18 percent, which is the biggest jump seen by the company since July 2015. Hertz shares soared the most in nearly two years. Hertz’s shares are still down 52 percent and Avis’ shares have lost 27 percent this year, for precisely the possibility that rental-car companies could suffer in an age of self-driving cars, not to mention surging ride-hailing companies such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc.