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Actionable news in FCAU: FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES N.V.,

Google, Chrysler Team Up On Minivans; GM, Lyft Test Self-Driving Electric Taxis

It appears my allegedly optimistic path for self-driving vehicles on the roads by 2020 may not have been optimistic enough.

Tests of self-driving taxis will take place within a year in a deal between GM (GM) and Lyft.

In a second deal, Chrysler (FCAU) and Google (GOOG) have teamed up on a self-driving minivan.

In Germany, self-driving trains will interconnect with self-driving autos to form self-driving door-to-door networks.

Self-Driving Electric Taxis Coming Up

The Wall Street Journal reports GM, Lyft Test Self-Driving Electric Taxis.

General Motors Co. and Lyft Inc. within a year will begin testing a fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric taxis on public roads, a move central to the companies’ joint efforts to challenge Silicon Valley giants in the battle to reshape the auto industry.

The plan is being hatched a few months after GM invested $500 million in Lyft, a ride-hailing company whose services rival Uber Technologies Inc. The program will rely on technology being acquired as part of GM’s separate $1 billion planned purchase of San Francisco-based Cruise Automation Inc., a developer of autonomous-driving technology.

Details of the autonomous-taxi testing program are still being worked out, according to a Lyft executive, but it will include customers in a yet-to-be disclosed city. Customers will have the opportunity to opt in or out of the pilot when hailing a Lyft car from the company’s mobile app.

In addition to driverless cars, GM aims to use Lyft and its growing army of drivers as a primary customer for the Bolt, an electric car that launches later this year amid soft demand for electric vehicles.

The new effort is directed mostly at challenging Alphabet and Uber. The Google self-driving car program has gained a sizable lead over conventional auto makers via testing in California and other states, and it received an additional boost this week through a minivan-supply agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. Uber, much bigger than Lyft, has its own self-driving research center in Pittsburgh and is preparing to usher autonomous vehicles in to its fleet by 2020.

In an effort to ease regulatory concerns, Lyft will start with autonomous cars that have drivers in the cockpit ready to intervene—but the driver is expected to eventually be obsolete.

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