Well, Fiat Chrysler may not have scored a merger with another automaker yet, but it’s scored its first tech partnership with another big whig. Google.
The Bloomberg report says the plan is to develop several dozen self-driving prototypes based on the minivan. It will be the first phase of a joint project to create autonomous vehicles. But the deal isn’t exclusive. Both parties will still be able to collaborate on driverless tech with other partners, too.
Sources also told Bloomberg Fiat Chrysler plans to equip the new Pacifica with Google technology starting this year.
The deal could be signed as early as Tuesday, but so far, no official comment from either Google or FCA.
It’s a big deal for both companies. For Google, it would mark its first big partnership with an automaker since the search engine giant started developing its own self-driving tech in 2014. Meanwhile, FCA is dragging far behind other automakers in autonomous tech so it needs to jumpstart that department fast. A partnership with Google does exactly that.
It’s not a big surprise, either. A deal goes along with comments FCA Chairman John Elkann made last month when he discussed FCA working with companies Google and Apple, rather than competing with them. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne also mentioned a possible partnership in December. He believes carmakers waste capital developing multiple versions of the same technology and thinks the industry should consolidate to become more profitable.
Google has conducted more than 1.4 million miles of tests on its own driverless prototypes. A Bloomberg source says a deal with General Motors fell through because of disagreements over ownership of technology and data.