Uber and Fiat Chrysler are in talks about a partnership involving self-driving car technology, according to several reports.
According to a person familiar with the matter, the discussions are in the very early stage and Uber is in conversation with a number of other carmakers. There’s always a chance the deal could fall apart. Uber declined to comment about the possible partnership at this time.
The deal seems part of a growing trend among automakers and tech companies focused on transportation and Uber has been chatting with several automakers lately, according to the reports.
But it’s not the first to strike a deal with an auto manufacturer. In fact, several Uber rivals have started to make a play in the self-driving space – Volkswagen invested $300 million in Gett, Apple, which is making its own self-driving car, invested a billion in China’s Didi Chuxing last month and Lyft announced a half-billion dollar investment from GM in early January to help create the infrastructure for a fleet of self-driving vehicles.
Many traditional car makers have started forging a path to a self-driving future. Volkswagen, as mentioned, as well as Daimler, BMW and now Fiat Chrysler want in on the autonomous tech race.
Fiat is the third-largest car maker in the U.S. and may be feeling left out of the game. A merger deal between GM and Fiat Chrysler fell apart last year, right before GM’s investment in Lyft and now the major car maker may be setting its sights on ride-hailing company Uber as a way in.
Uber is working on building a fleet of self-driving vehicles and poached a bunch of Carnegie Mellon roboticists last year to work on the project. Uber then financed the institution with $5.5 million as a way to make amends and create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh.
Uber also confirmed it had formed an auto-leasing deal with Toyota, which has become a major player in self-driving innovation, in May. According to a source close to the matter, Toyota and Uber are not planning on a partnership around self-driving technology.
Fiat is also making inroads with other tech firms in Silicon Valley around autonomous tech. Alphabet’s Google agreed to partner on building a fleet of 100 self-driving minivans in May.