Is Google About To Team Up With Fiat Chrysler?

Photo: Jason Torchinsky
Photo: Jason Torchinsky

Fiat Chrysler is allegedly in the midst of talks with Alphabet Inc., parent company to Google, about some sort of “technical partnership,” The Wall Street Journal reports. This seems like a rather odd pairing, but maybe it makes more sense than we think.

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We know that Google has been developing self-driving cars for years, and we’ve heard rumors that, because they have little experience with manufacturing and designing automobiles, they’d like to pair up with an established car company.

Before, we heard that company would be Ford, but that seemingly went nowhere. Now we’re hearing Google’s talking with Fiat Chrysler.

The Wall Street Journal cites someone close to the talks between Fiat Chrysler and Alphabet, saying:

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is in the late stage of talks with Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car division about a technology partnership...

They go on:

The talks have been ongoing for several months...Alphabet has been seeking industry partnerships with the biggest auto makers in the world, offering a deal to sell self-driving car technology that has been under development for several years.

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So it seems that Fiat Chrysler would benefit by getting self-driving tech from Google, but what exactly would Google get from Fiat Chrysler, arguably the least technologically-advanced major car company?

The newspaper didn’t say, but a good guess would be manufacturing and vehicle-integration expertise. If FCA can help Google build their products and integrate them into already-existing vehicle architectures, I could see why this might make sense for the giant software company.

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We also know that Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat Chrysler CEO, has been shopping around desperately for a partner, but a partnership with Google doesn’t seem like it’d be what he’s searching for.

After all, Marchionne’s main impetus for finding a partner, he says, has been to share vehicle development costs, since so many cars share so many components these days. If that’s his real drive for finding a partner, you’d think Sergio would want to join forces with a car company, and not one that doesn’t build cars at all.

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So if this Fiat Chrysler-Google partnership really does come to fruition, it likely won’t stop Sergio from continuing his begging. Either way, this sounds intriguing.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps (Including a Jeep Comanche). Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.

DISCUSSION

caddymanlnl
Caddyman

Other then public perception of partnering with a domestic vs. foreign automaker, I don’t think it matters to the Goog who they go with.

As mentioned, they will gain experience in integrating with automobile systems, they will also gain traction and market share in the mobile car race (apple carplay, android auto, etc)

When other manufacturers see (hopefully) a positive reaction, reviews, etc, of their integration with FCA autos, other brand would be more willing to try it out with their systems.

The article above mentions that FCA is arguably the least tech car company but their existing in-house infotainment system UConnect has been lauded by many as one of the best in the industry.