Fiat Chrysler, Google team up for self-driving minivans

It might not be the merger the company needs, but it's definitely an interesting development.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
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Update, 4:24 p.m. Eastern: Both Chrysler and Google have confirmed the partnership. The story and headline have been updated to reflect that.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has been looking for merger opportunities to better streamline its costs while the company looks to new and interesting developments in the auto industry. While the FCA hasn't exactly found a partner with which to merge, it's making one hell of an intriguing business move by teaming up with Google.

Fiat Chrysler and Google intend to bring self-driving technology to the all-new Chrysler Pacifica minivan, which was unveiled this past winter. This is the first time Google's worked directly with an automaker and applied its self-driving hardware and software to a street-legal passenger vehicle.

Don't expect to buy a self-driving minivan soon, though. This partnership is to help both automakers continue research on self-driving vehicles, and only 100 vehicles will be equipped with Google's systems. Both FCA and Google will bring engineers to southeastern Michigan (i.e. the greater Detroit area) to work on design, testing and manufacturing.

Watch this: Google's next self-driving car is a minivan

Before any Google-kissed Pacifica touches the road, it will undergo testing at Google's private test track in California. If everything checks out, public-road operation will commence.

FCA could use a strong autonomous backbone to help boost sales outside the truck market, where the company is currently printing most of its money. The partnership would benefit Google, as well. Building a car isn't exactly an exercise for the frugal, and while Google has plenty of cash to burn, offloading the whole "building a proper car" thing onto a company with experience in that field is a great idea to get its systems into cars quickly.

Bloomberg notes that Google and GM tried to partner up earlier, but data ownership sent the two parties moving in different directions. It appears that isn't a problem with FCA and Google.

On the road in the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica (pictures)

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The Chrysler Pacifica is more than just a freshened-up Town & Country (pictures)

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