Recently Fiat-Chrysler (FCA) CEO, Sergio Marchionne, announced a partnership with the world’s most valuable company and Silicon Valley giant Alphabet Inc. FCA will provide Alphabet with 100 self-driving Pacifica minivans that Alphabet will outfit with sensors and cameras to test its self-driving software on. The two companies will also have a conjoint team of engineers that will team up and be located in Detroit. This group was designed with the hope of helping improve the self-driving technology. Mr. Marchionne, when talking about the partnership and the technology, said that he believes that self-driving technology will be available in five years. It is conventionally believed that this technology will not be available for another fifteen or twenty years at the least. An analyst at Kelley Blue Book is skeptical of the partnership because there does not seem to be much collaboration between the two, ‘“So it remains to be seen how much work they actually do together.”’ This recent development seems like a continuation of the trend of Chrysler being third in terms of the Detroit 3, as Ford and GM have already invested money into autonomous vehicle technology. Going back to when we met with Mr. Thai-Tang he mentioned in his presentation that Ford is trying to rebrand itself as something more than just a manufacturer of cars. He felt that there were many technological aspects of car-making that will added in the future that traditional manufacturers may miss out on. The articles say that Mr. Marchionne thinks that this is too lofty a goal, however perhaps it is this line of thinking that consistently makes Chrysler the perpetual “Number 3.” Mr. Thai-Tang also mentioned that he was worried about the SV giants like Apple and Alphabet because of the amount of cash they have. This is pertinent because Mr. Marchionne doesn’t think that a merger between FCA and Alphabet will occur, however given this huge stockpile of cash Alphabet may make an attractive enough offer that would lead to a merger. Who knows, perhaps a merger with the most valuable company in the world will help pull FCA out from its third place position and help inspire a brand renaissance! Any thoughts on this partnership and prospects on a potential merger?