CARS

Google’s self-driving car tech could become available in FCA vehicles

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Self-driving car technology developed by Google’s Waymo division could become available in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles vehicles, the two partners said Thursday as they announced plans to grow their relationship. 

FCA said in a statement that it and Waymo are “beginning discussions about the use of Waymo self-driving technology, including potentially through licensing, in a FCA-manufactured vehicle” available to buyers.

FCA offered no additional details including when those vehicles might be available to the public. While the automaker offers a competitive suite of collision-avoidance tech such as automatic emergency braking and active lane control in its vehicles, it has lagged behind most rivals on the road toward self-driving cars.

Thursday’s announcement also put a number on just how many Chrysler vans Waymo has ordered: 62,000. Waymo currently operates about 600 Chrysler vans and FCA said that it will begin delivering new Pacifica Hybrids to the Google division by the end of the year. FCA and Waymo first announced plans to expand their partnership in January. Waymo announced in March that it would also pair with Jaguar-Land Rover to equip some of its cars with self-driving hardware.

Waymo integrates its self-driving system into the Chrysler vans and uses them for testing in a several U.S. cities.

The announcement may also breathe some life into FCA’s struggling Chrysler division. On Friday, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne plans to unveil the automaker’s five-year product plan and rumors have circulated that the product-starved Chrysler brand could be on the chopping block. Chrysler dealers have just two new models available—the Pacifica van and the aging 300 full-size sedan.

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