Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Waymo self-driving technology company announced on Wednesday that they have expanded their autonomous driving technology partnership and signed an exclusive agreement for light commercial vehicles.
Waymo, formerly the Google self-driving car project, will now work exclusively with FCA as its preferred partner for the development and testing of class 1-3 light commercial vehicles for commercial delivery customers, the joint FCA-Waymo statement said.
Waymo began as the Google self-driving car project in 2009. It was spun off as a separate company in 2016 when it partnered with FCA to produce the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan — the first mass-produced vehicle with integrated Waymo Driver self-driving technology.
“Incorporating the Waymo Driver, the world’s leading self-driving technology, into our Pacifica minivans, we became the only partnership actually deploying fully autonomous technology in the real world, on public roads,” FCA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mike Manley said in the statement on Wednesday.
“With this next step, deepening our relationship with the very best technology partner in this space, we’re turning to the needs of our commercial customers by jointly enabling self-driving for light commercial vehicles,” Manley explained.
“Our partnership is setting the pace for the safe and sustainable mobility solutions that will help define the automotive world in the years and decades to come,” the FCA CEO noted.
“The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans … guided by the Waymo Driver have now safely and reliably driven more fully autonomous miles than any other vehicle on the planet,” commented Waymo CEO John Krafcik.
“Today, we’re expanding our partnership with FCA,” Krafcik continued. “Together, we’ll introduce the Waymo Driver (technology) throughout the FCA brand portfolio, opening up new frontiers for ride-hailing, commercial delivery, and personal-use vehicles around the world.”
Italian-American automaker FCA designs, engineers, manufactures and sells vehicles in a portfolio of brands. It employs nearly 200,000 people around the world. And FCA is in the process of completing a 50/50 merger with French automaker Peugeot S.A.
Earlier this year, FCA announced that it is in discussions with major electronics manufacturer Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd., regarding the potential creation of an equal joint venture to develop and manufacture in China new generation battery electric vehicles and engage in the IoV (Internet of Vehicles) business.