Google today announced that it has partnered with Fiat Chrysler to get dozens more self-driving cars in the wild.
The partnership was rumored to be in the works last week, and now it’s real.
“We’re planning to more than double our fleet with the initial addition of about 100 new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, and we hope the first few will be on the road by the end of this year,” Google said in a Google+ post.
It’s worth asking why Google wanted to go from its Lexus sports-utility vehicles and its homegrown coupé design to something more family-friendly.
“The minivan design … gives us an opportunity to test a larger vehicle that could be easier for passengers to enter and exit, particularly with features like hands-free sliding doors,” Google said. And Chrysler will take take care of the manufacturing of the car as well as the onboard computers.
Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne told USA Today that Google and other technology companies “are not my enemy.”
In 2009 Fiat finished its takeover of Chrysler after Chrysler’s bankruptcy proceedings.
Other automakers, including Audi, have flirted with varying degrees of autonomous driving. BMW and Daimler last year ended talks with Apple over a car project, according to a report last month from Handelsblatt.