Several hours after Alphabet announced that Waymo, its self-driving unit, has reached an agreement for Avis Budget Group to manage its fleet of autonomous vehicles (which includes Avis changing the cars' oil and letting them park in its lots), unleashing a furious short squeeze within the fleet/rental space, moments ago Apple likewise unveiled a deal in which it would leasing a small fleet of autonomous testing cars from Hertz Global, according to Bloomberg.
Specifically, the iPhone maker is leasing Lexus RX450h sport-utility vehicles from Hertz’s Donlen fleet-management unit, according to documents released recently by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. When Apple received its license to test three autonomous vehicles from the state’s DMV in April, the documents listed Donlen as the lessor and Apple as the lessee
A half-dozen vehicles have been testing Apple’s autonomous technology on public roads in and around the San Francisco Bay area for at least a year, a person familiar with Apple’s project told Bloomberg earlier this year.
As for the earlier deal announcement, Avis announced it would service and store Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Phoenix, where the parent of Google is testing a ride-hailing service with volunteer members of the public. According to Bloomberg, the arrangement with Avis "gives Waymo a sprawling network of traditional cars and customers that could be transformed into an autonomous transport service over time."
While the ultimate benefit to Avis and Hertz remains to be seen - and if it is indeed simply a maintenance and parking JV, there may be some disappointment - for now the stocks are loving it, with both names surging double digits mostly as a result of bears bailing out from the two heavily shorted names. As a point of reference, 52% of HTZ's float is short, and just happens to be at an all time high in absolute terms which should explain the kneejerk reaction in the stock(s).