Fiat Chrysler Said to Be in Talks with Uber for Developing Self-Driving Cars

Chrysler Pacifica 1 photo
Photo: Chrysler/FCA
OK, we're a bit confused here: it was a little over a month ago that Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced a partnership whose fruition would be an autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
Predictably, FCA is to provide the actual car while Google is responsible for the self-driving technology part, enabling the vehicle to cruise autonomously without any input from the driver. 35 days later, we find out that FCA is already in talks with the ride-hailing giant Uber for developing a fleet of autonomous vehicles. The reports suggest that talks are still in a preliminary state, and no decision has been reached yet.

In fact, the situation is even more uncertain than that because Uber is discussing the matter with other manufacturers as well, so FCA might be facing some stern competition. But if it manages to move quickly with the Google-powered Pacifica, it could serve as an indication of the company's credentials in this regard. It is believed that Uber wants to come to a conclusion by the end of the year, so the time frame is pretty tight.

You can understand FCA's desire to work together with any company that can provide the necessary software since it lacks the know-how or the financial power to get it. Similarly, Uber has been looking to strike partnerships with car manufacturers lately, starting with Toyota. Earlier this year, there were also reports of Uber agreeing to buy 100,000 autonomous Mercedes-Benz S-Class vehicles, to be delivered beginning with 2020. But a company with Uber's profile would be more interested in a fleet of accessible vehicles, and FCA might be more suitable in that regard.

Also last month, Uber showed the world the car it uses for testing the self-driving technology, and to make matters even more confusing, it's a Ford Fusion. But then again, the hardware isn't all that important once the AI has been sorted out, which is exactly what should worry FCA the most: the risk of becoming a hardware supplier and nothing more, a position that Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, warned carmakers of a long time ago.

However, reporting on the subject, Bloomberg also questioned Massimo Beccio, an Italian analyst at Mediobanca, and he's more supportive of FCA's strategy: “The question here is if Fiat Chrysler is right in working with new industry participants or it should rather try to compete with them like the other carmakers are doing. We believe that the scenario where every carmaker develops its own autonomous driving is another example of capital wasting in the industry.”
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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