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Why The Fiat Chrysler Partnership With Alphabet Inc Makes Sense

  • Fiat Chrysler and Alphabet plan to develop about 100 self-driving prototypes based on the car maker's Pacifica minivan.
  • The collaboration is the first phase of a joint project to create autonomous vehicles, and makes good business sense for both companies.
  • Fiat Chrysler could enter similar partnerships with Apple.
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Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) and Alphabet Inc-A (NSDQ:GOOGL) plan to develop about 100 self-driving prototypes based on the car maker's Pacifica minivan, Bloomberg Technology reported earlier this week.

According to "people familiar with the matter," the collaboration is the first phase of a joint project to create autonomous vehicles. The prototypes will be used by Alphabet to test its self-driving technology, and the companies would remain free to cooperate in driverless technology with other partners.

"This collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the first time we’ve worked directly with an automaker to create our vehicles," confirmed Alphabet with

a Google+ post
. "FCA will design the minivans so it’s easy for us to install our self-driving systems, including the computers that hold our self-driving software, and the sensors that enable our software to see what’s on the road around the vehicle. The minivan design also gives us an opportunity to test a larger vehicle that could be easier for passengers to enter and exit, particularly with features like hands-free sliding doors."

Alphabet is more than doubling its self-driving car fleet with the initial addition of about 100 new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, and hopes that the first few prototypes will be on the road by the end of this year. Alphabet's self-driving cars unit is expected to a become a stand-alone business under Alphabet and offer self-driving car rides for hire, with a business model...


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