Turns out FCA has a Winning Strategy After all When it Comes to Autonomous Driving
Critics have long lampooned Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) for their relatively low contribution in the race to develop autonomous vehicle tech. Ironically enough, it will be an FCA vehicle doing the honors when Waymo (formerly a part of Google and now a subsidiary) launches their driverless taxi service later this year, scheduled to make history in being the first to provide the service. While FCA offers what we can refer to as the hardware in the form of a minivan, Waymo has developed the sensors and software that it’s still currently perfecting.
Despite being notoriously frugal with research budgets, FCA is starting to look like the real winner among all automakers. It may sound silly since the company has done the bare minimum to advance the cause of driverless vehicles, but the automaker knew how to protect its hard-earned profits while partnering with savvy businesses that made significant strides in the area. The partnership will help the automaker cut costs on the research end, and in the case of FCA, could set a precedent for other car manufacturers to follow.
The role of provider has more perks than people realize – FCA is in talks with Waymo to license the software they’re testing, essentially allowing the automaker to manufacture and sell fully self-driving cars to prospective customers. John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo, mentioned that he envisions a future in which automakers and robotaxi business work in tandem and share the profits. Krafcik approaches Waymo’s mission from an optimist’s standpoint, recently telling Bloomberg “We’re not disrupting this industry – we are enabling this industry.”
FCA also has other partnerships slated to begin in early 2019. Partnerships with BMW AG and auto supplier Aptiv Plc will allow the automaker access to limited autonomous features like automated steering and lane changes for their Jeep, Ram, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo lineups. Once again, without breaking the bank and paying billions for research, FCA is set to end up with much of the same technology as other big spenders across the automobile world.
Benefitting from all of this technology isn’t the only bonus for FCA – the fact that Waymo is a guaranteed buyer of 62,000 vehicles to date will help FCA meet fuel economy standards in the U.S. Fuel economy is measured by the average miles per gallon of the entire fleet of cars sold. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), FCA ranked last in 2016 fuel economy evaluations, so this will be a small perk to help them climb up the rankings when the study is conducted again.
We still have a few months to go before Waymo’s robotaxi service goes live and it’s too early to tell if FCA’s choice to partner with them is one that’ll pay off in the long run. What we can deduce is that outsourcing the tech was the right choice for FCA as they worked on their survival strategy after finalizing their merge between Fiat and Chrysler in 2014.
Curious about Waymo’s choice of robotaxi? Pass by Hollywood Chrysler Jeep and check out the Pacifica Hybrid minivans in our inventory – see for yourself what features made this the right choice to become a peoplemover.
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Photo Source/Copyright: Wired.com