Today Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said that his company’s partnership with Google on autonomous vehicles is just the “first phase” of larger relationship.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is working to put Google’s autonomous driving system in 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
“This first phase of the operation is very targeted. It’s designed to take Google technology into the minivan. It’s very, very focused,” Marchionne told the press today at an event launching the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. “There’s a very clear objective and a very clear timeline. What develops from here? We’ll see.”
FCA and Google announced the joint project on Tuesday. Google will outfit 100 Pacifica plug-in hybrids with autonomous driving tech.
Marchionne said that FCA is trying to not put all its partnership eggs in one basket, meaning that the company is trying to be open to working with different tech or different companies.
“I’ve seen efforts by others to pre-empt what I consider to be a natural evolution of choices,” Marchionne said. “So making unequivocal bets with companies who are in that space today and effectively precluding the development with others is a very dangerous path, at least in our view.”
Marchionne also said that as automakers work on new tech, such as autonomous driving, they’ll need to understand that new partners from the tech world have a lot of size and scope themselves.
According to Marchionne, FCA is “exploring with people who are willing to explore with us, to allow us into their world, into what that outcome will look like.”
“We need to be able to walk this transition, and I think walking in a collaborative fashion with people who have historically been viewed as intruders and potential enemies of our business,” Marchionne said. “Walking with them at their speed is the best possible solution for us in terms of determining what our future state will be.”
Some automakers have been cautious about working with Google because of various concerns, such as sharing data ownership.
Marchionne said he’s aware of those concerns, but they can be dealt with in due time.
“There are a lot of unresolved issues,” he said. “The most important one is: What is the economic model that ultimately determines the sharing of the attributes of this new model? Who gets what out of all this? Now, I don’t have an answer. But if we don’t start exploring this, we’ll never know.”