Fiat Chrysler agrees on self-driving auto technology deal


FCA US and Aurora announced today that they have signed a memorandum of understanding laying the groundwork for a powerful partnership to develop and deploy self-driving commercial vehicles. Neither company offered a time frame for when such vehicles would be on the road.

"As part of FCA's autonomous vehicle strategy, we will continue to work with strategic partners to address the needs of customers in a rapidly changing industry", the automaker's CEO Mike Manley said in the release.

Both FCA and Aurora did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, nor the date and number of self-driving vehicles to be developed from the project.

Fiat Chrysler has an existing partnership with Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving unit, in which it supplies Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans for Waymo's driverless fleet, which is now in operation in Arizona.

FCA insiders have blamed French government interference for scuttling the proposed "merger-of-equals", but sources in France have, in turn, claimed that they were concerned that the deal could have fractured the two decade old Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Additionally, Cruise has attracted major outside investors, including Honda and Japanese tech giant SoftBank.

Aurora now runs operations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as well as San Francisco and Palo Alto, California, three of the hotbeds of autonomous vehicle research, with more than 200 employees.

The self-driving startup said its Aurora Driver technology has been integrated into six vehicle platforms from sedans, SUVs, mini-vans to large commercial vehicles and trucks.

In Aurora, Fiat Chrysler has a partner whose three co-founders are considered to be among the leading lights of the push to make self-driving cars a reality. We are building the Aurora Driver, a platform that brings together the software and hardware to power the transportation of the future.

In February, Aurora said it had raised $530 million in new funding.