Fiat Chrysler Reportedly In Talks To Partner With Uber
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE:FCAU) is reportedly in talks with Uber Technologies Inc. to form a partnership to build self-driving cars for the ride-hailing startup. Reports have emerged that the talks are at a preliminary stage, and a deal could be announced by the end of the year. The information was obtained by sources who requested to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak about the potential venture.
Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne has been pursuing partnerships with a number of tech companies in recent months. Reports say that he offered to build a car for Apple Inc. The company has also been in talks with Amazon.com Inc. on self-driving vehicles for the web retailer’s deliveries, according to the sources. No agreements have been reached as yet.
Fiat was the first major automaker to strike a deal with Google on driverless cars. Last month, Fiat and Google agreed to develop about 100 self-driving prototypes based on the carmaker’s Pacifica minivan. Google will use the vehicles to test its self-driving technology. The deal is Google’s first with a major automaker since it began developing self-driving cars on its own in 2014.
Partnering with a tech company would be a smart move for Fiat, as it lacks the resources to develop self-driving features on its own. Sharing the development costs would be an excellent way to reduce costs while still moving forward on innovation. Fiat Chairman John Elkann has said carmakers should avoid past mistakes of wasting resources in an effort to compete against the tech companies.
Some of Fiat’s bigger rivals have also been investing in various tech ventures. In January, General Motors Co. spent half a billion dollars investing in Lyft Inc., the second-largest U.S. ride-hailing service. Last month, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a strategic investment in Uber, and Volkswagen paid $300 million for a stake in Gett, a European rival to Uber.
Uber offers automakers access to a massive fleet of cars for gathering data and improving systems. It’s reported that the ridesharing giant is actually talking with several different automakers, and has already put together a deal with Toyota. Uber, which is said to be worth $62.5 billion, offered the first public look at its driverless prototype in Pittsburgh last month. The company is also building a new autonomous research and development facility there.