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Fiat Chrysler spurns solo path with autonomous cars, seeks partners

2017 Chrysler Pacifica
Fiat Chrysler seeks tech partnerships for autonomous cars Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is convinced autonomous cars are coming sooner rather than later, and doesn’t want to go it alone. CEO Sergio Marchionne spoke at a factory in Canada this week, clarifying matters regarding the massive manufacturer’s preference for technology partners, reported the Wall Street Journal. “We are exploring with people who are willing to explore with us,” Marchionne said.

Fiat Chrysler and Google recently announced the car maker is donating Chrysler Pacifica minivans to Google. The minivans will be modified to work with Google’s autonomous car technology to test on public roads. The car company would like to take the relationship deeper, but at this point has no indication of Google’s willingness to do so. The ownership of the data produced by the tests hasn’t even been decided — BMW and Daimler both declined to work with Apple, reportedly over data ownership.

Speaking of Google, Marchionne said, “Whether they want to take this another step is unclear to me. It is also unclear if we can become more formal partners.”

Marchionne believes car companies developing their own driverless technology are taking the wrong path. General Motors, the largest car company in the U.S., invested $500 million in Lyft ride-hailing company for autonomous vehicle testing with electric cars. In reference to GM’s $1 billion purchase of a small autonomous vehicle technology company, Marchionne called it “a dangerous bet.”

Fiat Chrysler actively seeks partnerships for economies of scale and better use of capital. The company uses that strategy with other vehicle manufacturers when it can, and wants to partner with car and tech companies for autonomous car development. So far, its efforts to partner with GM and other car companies on driverless cars haven’t worked.

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