Shares were up 1.16% Tuesday after the company crushed top and bottom line expectations. While analysts are busy critiquing the company over its spending, autonomous driving enthusiasts were combing through the conference call listening intently for any updates on Waymo, Google's self-driving car unit.
Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot in the call. CFO Ruth Porat said the company is focused on safety and user experience, which is "why we're expanding methodically." She also said:
"We are pleased that we've continued to broaden out our service in the Phoenix area and we're focused on expanding both the number of riders in the geographic reach around Phoenix. In addition, we're having conversations with a number of other interested cities and we are continuing to explore applying our technology for logistics and deliveries and for personal use vehicles and for last mile solutions for cities, so continuing to execute as we've described previously."
On its own, that's not much of an update. Basically, Waymo continues to work on perfecting its process and expanding its reach. However, when coupled with further reports on Tuesday, Waymo becomes more interesting.
The Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance -- a group in the papers for the wrong reasons, as Carlos Ghosn, a top member of the alliance, has been arrested -- is reportedly in discussion with Waymo. This could result in them unveiling an agreement this spring. Reportedly, discussions are in the final phases and would give Waymo an excellent foray into Asian and European markets.
Notably, Alphabet already has an entry into the European markets, given its work with Jaguar and Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) - Get Report . The latter gives it exposure to both the U.S. and North America, although both automakers are not exactly what you'd call global leaders when it comes to production. That's no knock on Jaguar or Fiat, the latter of which produces a vast array of different auto brands.
But when compared to a group like Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi, the group is a volume juggernaut, selling almost 11 million vehicles in 2018. While Google may receive criticism over its spending for Waymo and lack of relative revenue for its one-city setup in Phoenix, the group clearly has big plans.
CEO John Krafcik has talked about Waymo expanding in Europe and a larger operation in the U.S. is essentially a given. But with this possible new partnership underway, it adds to the perception that, not only is Waymo the current leader in the autonomous driving movement, but that it can continue to grow its lead over those behind it. Worth noting is that General Motors (GM) - Get Report has Cruise and is considered the No. 2 in the U.S., although it does not yet have a mobility-as-a-service up and running yet like Waymo. Also worth pointing out is that Baidu (BIDU) - Get Report , the Chinese internet search giant, has its own autonomous driving platform, too, with Apollo.
So Alphabet will have its work cut out for it in the competition department, whether that's in the U.S. vs. Cruise and others, or in Asia against Baidu and others. Either way, a potential partnership with Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi won't hurt its odds.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.