Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the first major automaker to strike a deal with Google on driverless cars, has now started discussions on a similar partnership with Uber Technologies, people familiar with the matter said.
A venture with Uber could be announced by the end of the year, said one of the people. The talks are at a preliminary stage, and the ride-hailing service is holding conversations with several other carmakers, said another person. They asked not to be named because the process is confidential.
Fiat also has had initial contacts with Amazon on self-driving vehicles for the web retailer's deliveries, the people said. No agreements have been reached and negotiations could still fall apart.
Fiat and Uber declined to comment. A Milan-based spokesman for Amazon said the company doesn't comment on rumors and speculation.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has been pursuing partnerships with tech companies, including offering to build a car for Apple. The debt-laden automaker is more open to cooperating with the likes of Google as it lacks the resources to develop self-driving technology on its own.
Fiat and Google agreed last month to develop about 100 self-driving prototypes based on the carmaker's Pacifica minivan. The vehicles will be used by Google to test its self-driving technology. The accord is Google's first with a major automaker since the technology giant began developing self-driving cars on its own in 2014.
Uber, which received a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia last week, offers access to a massive fleet of cars to gather data and help improve systems. Adopting self-driving vehicles would allow the ride-sharing pioneer to lower the costs and risks of working with human drivers. Uber joined with Google in April to create an advocacy group for safety regulations for self-driving vehicles.
Fiat Chairman John Elkann has said carmakers should have a "practical approach" and work with new industry participants such as Google and Apple rather than trying to compete with them. In his annual letter to the Agnelli's family holding company Exor, which controls Fiat, Elkann, 40, said carmakers shouldn't repeat the mistake of the past when they made "very bad capital allocation decisions" in an effort to move beyond "boring car-making."
Some of Fiat's bigger rivals have been investing in various tech ventures, including ride-hailing services, to have an inside look at an industry that's taking aim at the concept of car ownership. Toyota Motor Corp. agreed last month to make a strategic investment in Uber, meanwhile Gett, the Tel Aviv-based taxi-ordering rival to Uber, raised $300 million from Germany's Volkswagen Group.
In January, General Motors invested $500 million in Lyft, the second-largest U.S. ride-hailing service after Uber. GM leases vehicles to Lyft drivers in Chicago, and the companies plan to expand the program.