25 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will begin roaming the streets of San Francisco as part of a ridesharing service aimed at helping busy families.
FCA US is providing the minivans as part of a deal with California-based Kango. The app-based startup company offers rides and childcare for preschool to high school-aged kids. Kango drivers will have the option of leasing the minivans to perform the service.
“Parents and children today are busier than ever and often need to be in multiple places at one time. The Chrysler brand is focused on providing transportation solutions for families to make their lives easier,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America. “Together with Kango, we will make it easier for parents to manage conflicting priorities at work with the knowledge that their kids are being transported to their activities in a safe environment.”
The move gives FCA an entrée into a growing segment of the transportation landscape. Ushered in by such names as Uber and Lyft, ridesharing continues hauling in the public’s interest as an alternative to driving. It estimated more than 20 million US adults tried some form of ridesharing last year.
FCA is not only testing ridesharing, but other forms of alternative transportation including the development of autonomous and electric vehicles.
Last year, FCA provided 100 minivans to autonomous vehicle developer Waymo. That amount was increased by 500 more minivans this year. Waymo is outfitting the vehicles with sensors in an effort to develop a reliable model for autonomous driving.
Kango drivers must be certified, fingerprinted and pass both a background and motor vehicle record check. All drivers are also screened in person.
Kango is the only service insured to drive children of any age. It is also the only kids’ ridesharing service that performs both same-day and pre-scheduled rides, seven days a week, and allows families to meet a driver or sitter beforehand if desired.
“In addition to being a green vehicle with the best mileage of any minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid will help us meet the growing demand for shared carpool rides for groups of kids going places,” said Kango Chief Executive Sara Schaer. “Drivers save money on gas. Kids are delighted with the minivan’s kid-friendly features. It’s a win for everyone.”