Jeff Kowalsky | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee inspects a Fiat Chrysler side panel at the Sterling Stamping Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Fiat Chrysler is joining BMW, Intel and its subsidiary Mobileye in a partnership to develop autonomous-drive vehicles.
The addition of FCA gives the BMW/Intel team a boost in the race among automakers, tech firms and auto suppliers to develop the technology that allows vehicles to drive with little or no driver interaction.
“In order to advance autonomous driving technology, it is vital to form partnerships among automakers, technology providers and suppliers,” said FCA Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne.
As part of the partnership, the automakers will co-locate engineers in Germany and at other locations around the world. While the group is far from developing models that will be sold in large volume, FCA said the strength it brings to the partnership is its sales volume, geographic reach and experience in North America.
For now, Fiat Chrysler said it is not changing its relationship with Waymo, the subsidiary of Alphabet that has worked with Fiat Chrysler to modify Chrysler Pacifica minivans to develop self-driving vehicles. Waymo is currently testing a small number of autonomous-drive Pacifica minivans in Phoenix, with some of them providing rides to a select number of people.
BMW Chairman Harold Kruger said, “With FCA as our new partner, we reinforce our path.”
“The future of transportation relies on auto and tech industry leaders working together to develop a scalable architecture that automakers around the globe can adopt and customize,” said Brian Krzanich, Intel’s CEO.
Fiat Chrysler partnering with another automaker to develop self-driving cars stands in contrast to its Big Three competitors GM and Ford. General Motors has bought tech firms like Cruise Automation, but it is not working with any established automakers on self-driving cars. Nor is Ford, which has been developing a greater presence in the Silicon Valley but has not yet signed on to work with other automakers on autonomous-drive vehicles.