Google is planning to expand a carpool service on its Waze navigation app — a move that puts the company in direct competition with big players in the ride-sharing industry, like Uber — which is now worth somewhere between $60 and $70 billion.
Waze’s carpool service expanding to additional U.S. cities
With millions of people now using the Waze navigation app on a daily basis, Google has already established a huge pool of potential drivers.
And according to the top guys at Waze, launching the service now is a lot less risky than it would have been just a few years ago.
“That idea of sharing a car with someone else has become much more accepted than it was five years ago,” Waze CEO Noam Bardin told The Wall Street Journal.
Bardin said the company plans to expand its ride-share services to include additional U.S. cities and some Latin American markets, after testing in Israel and the San Francisco Bay Area ‘met expectations.’
How Waze’s services differ from other ride-share apps
Waze isn’t going after full-time drivers like Uber, but ‘instead wants to persuade regular drivers using its navigation app to pick up people who are heading in the same direction,’ says the WSJ.
“Can we get the average person on his way to work to pick someone up and drop them off once in a while? That’s the biggest challenge,’ Bardin told the WSJ.
According to TechCrunch, Waze’s carpool option differs from Uber’s UberPOOL feature in that Google doesn’t seek to use the feature as a ‘revenue-generating opportunity for the drivers.’
Instead, the option is designed to help drivers split the cost of gas and potentially cover some costs of a vehicle’s maintenance.
The selling point for riders is the price. According to the WSJ, a ride from Oakland to downtown San Fran would cost $4.50 with Waze, while the same trip using Uber’s cheapest option would cost $10.57 and Lyft’s cheapest option would cost $12.40. A subway ride costs $3.45.
‘To prevent drivers from using the service as their main income source—and to evade potential regulatory scrutiny—riders pay drivers up to 54 cents a mile, the Internal Revenue Service’s reimbursement rate for business travel with a personal car,’ according to the WSJ.
If Waze’s Carpool takes off and still focuses on cost-sharing instead of profiting, the company could help reduce the number of cars on the road, TechCrunch reported.
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The Atlanta Journal Constitution contributed to this article.