Google Taking On Uber With Waze Expansion

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Google is planning to significantly expand a carpool service on its navigational app Waze, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The move indicates the company is edging closer to a potential clash with ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc.

Google is targeting launch of the Waze carpool service in several U.S. cities and Latin America over the next several months, Waze Chief Noam Bardin said in an interview to the Wall Street Journal.

Bardin reportedly said that the move to expand the carpool service comes after testing of the service in Israel and San Francisco Bay area met expectations.

Israel-based Waze was acquired by Google in 2013 for $1.1 billion. The service, which is a GPS-based geographical navigation application program for smartphones with GPS support, offers real-time driving directions based on information from other drivers.

In 2016, Google commenced a pilot car-pooling program around its California headquarters and later expanded it to San Francisco.

Waze promotes the service as Waze Carpool, noting that the service will enable to connect drivers with fellow commuters heading in the same direction. This is unlike Uber and its crosstown San Francisco rival Lyft Inc., which each largely operate as on-demand taxi businesses.

The Waze pilot program charged riders below the federal standard mileage rate of 54 cents a mile, thus discouraging drivers from making a living by operating as taxi drivers.

Nevertheless, Google's expansion into ride-sharing could intensify its rivalry with Uber. In 2013, Google had invested $258 million in Uber when the two companies were allies.

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