Fiat Chrysler (FCA) is eyeing a partnership with Uber to build self-driving cars for the ride-hailing startup, according to a report in Bloomberg. A deal could be reached by the end of the year, or completely fall apart in the next few weeks, the report says. The discussions are in very early stages and Uber is in conversation with several other carmakers, a source familiar with the talks told The Verge.
The news comes amid a series of collaborations between established automakers and the technology startups that are disrupting the transportation world. Previously, FCA had struck a deal with Google to make several dozen self-driving minivans, and Uber and Toyota announced that they had formed a "strategic partnership" that included an undisclosed investment by the Japanese automaker in the app-based company. Toyota, which is the world's largest car manufacturer, is taking self-driving technology very seriously, as are many of its competitors.
A deal could be reached by the end of the year, or completely fall apart in the next few weeks
Bloomberg notes that FCA chief Sergio Marchionne has been aggressively pursuing deals with tech companies to build self-driving cars, as the debt-laden car company lacks the resources to develop its own autonomous technology. Previously, Marchionne offered to build a self-driving car for Apple.
Until recently, Uber was the world's loneliest ride-sharing startup. Many of its rivals were pairing up with bigger, wealthier car companies — like Lyft with General Motors, or Didi with Apple. Last month, Volkswagen announced it was investing $300 million in Gett, a black car-hailing service.
But lately Uber, which is said to be worth $62.5 billion, has been more focused on locking down deals, starting with Toyota. Last month, it offered the first public look at its driverless prototype in Pittsburgh, where it is building a new autonomous research and development facility. The car wasn't a Toyota, nor was it a Fiat or a Chrysler — it was a Ford Fusion.