Google and Fiat Chrysler’s Collaboration of the Self-Driving Minivan

In recent years, competition between technology companies and automakers has emerged in the development of the self-driving car. Working independently of each other, this competition has introduced a wary relationship between both industries, but recently, a major breakthrough has taken place, as Google announced Tuesday that it would expand its automobile testing by installing its technology in a fleet of 100 Fiat Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Instead of working on its own in creating and testing self-driving vehicles, Google has abandoned course, which has greatly benefitted Fiat Chrysler, as it now gains access to Google’s technology and technological expertise that could allow it to catch up to other car companies in the race of building self-driving vehicles. Furthermore, Google benefits from the collaboration04drive1-master768 by not having to work horizontally with an automotive supplier to build its cars. Instead, Chrysler will design and engineer the minivan while Google will then place sensors and computer systems into the vehicles. Because of this, the chief executive of the Google Self-Driving Car Project, John Krafik, stated that, “the collaboration will accelerate our efforts to develop a fully-self driving car that will make ou
r roads safer and bring everyday destinations within reach for those physically handicap and unable to drive.” In essence, not only does this collaboration benefit both Fiat and Google, but it also supports the collaboration’s main goal of preventing accidents and saving lives with these efficient self-driving cars. By making this collaborative step, Google and Fiat become one step closer to reducing traffic fatalities by 33,000 a year along with solve the problem of drunk driving.


4 comments to Google and Fiat Chrysler’s Collaboration of the Self-Driving Minivan

  • adamsm19

    FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has recently stated his desire to merge with another car company to help Chrysler financially. Could this partnership with Google, seemingly unlikely only several years ago, have been prompted by Ford’s cool reaction to a proposal for a merger? In addition, does this partnership seem likely to influence other innovative technologies besides self driving cars?

  • barnettt18

    This partnership between Google and Fiat is great news for the future of automated automobiles as the industry standard. As major companies produce self-driving cars and pressure legislatures to allow self-driving cars on a wide scale, we should begin to see a major upturn in the creation of self-driving cars from major auto retailers. I personally look forward to the day that automated cars become the industry norm because safety standards will skyrocket and save thousands of people from injuries or fatalities. The strategic collaboration between Fiat Chrysler and Google signals a major advancement in automotive technology that will define the future of innovation in the auto industry.

    Thomas Barnett

  • platte16

    By creating a minivan, it appears that FCA is attempting to market towards stay-at-home parents. Self-driving would free the driver to take care of his or her children in the backseat and prevent the stereotypical seen of the parent dangerously reaching in the back to care for the children rather than watching the road.

  • FCA as a smaller company has a harder time developing such technologies by themselves. Toyota, Ford, and GM for example all have internal projects. So this is natural.

    As to mergers, Marchionne argues that it will lead to big cost savings, but those look bigger from the perspective of FCA than from (say) Ford or GM. Ford recently got rid of Mercury, GM of Pontiac and other brands. Why would they want to add more brands back in? Do the various FCA brands have so much value and such distinctive identities that creating spinoffs of (say) Ford-brand vehicles to be marketed as Chryslers would work? I don’t believe so, and neither apparently do Ford or GM!

    Finally, John Krafcik is an interesting person, one of the major players in the MIT International Motor Vehicle Project that led to the seminal “Machine that Changed the World” book, and perhaps the only one I don’t personally know. He was a GM engineer seconded to NUMMI (the GM-Toyota joint venture), but found GM unreceptive to learning from the Japanese when he rotated back to headquarters. He followed up with an MBA from MIT Sloan, and in his (required) Masters Thesis coined the “lean production” terminology. He subsequently worked at Ford, was the President of Hyundai US, before moving to Google (with I think a brief tenure at TrueCar). He provides a lot of credibility to Google’s effort.