WINDSOR, Ontario -- Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said his company’s agreement with Google to put the technology giant’s autonomous driving system in 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans is a “first phase” of their relationship.
“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 reporters Friday prior to a celebration marking the launch of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
“There’s a very clear objective and a very clear timeline. What develops from here? We’ll see.”
The joint effort, announced by FCA and Google on Tuesday, will transform 100 Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrids into autonomous vehicles using Google’s technology. The two companies will jointly develop the vehicles, Marchionne said.
The CEO said FCA’s strategy is to keep an open mind about partnerships and not necessarily latch onto to a specific tech company or technology.
“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 said that as FCA and other automakers explore new business models that include autonomous driving, it’s important to recognize the huge size and scope of their new potential partners.
FCA, he said, 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.”
Other automakers have shied away from Google for a variety of reasons, including disagreement over the ownership of data generated by such joint projects.
Marchionne suggested that those concerns exist but can be left to the future.
“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.”