Google is on the verge of signing a new deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to build “several dozen” self-driving minivans, according to a new report.
The first models could be on the road sometime this year for the first phase of the self-driving vehicle partnership, but it’s not yet clear what the main objective is.
Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reports that “Fiat Chrysler plans to equip the new Pacifica, which will be available as a plug-in hybrid, with Google technology starting this year.”
The deal, which could be signed today, also allows both companies to work on other driverless car projects with other partners. It will be the first time Google has struck a self-driving car partnership with a major vehicle maker.
Google has been testing its self-driving technologies inside Lexus vehicles for years, and prior to that, it used the Toyota Prius. However, Google was responsible for adapting the vehicles in these instances, while Chrysler will likely be manufacturing their successors.
“For Fiat Chrysler, the deal would provide a shortcut to features that have taken on growing importance for the auto industry,” adds Bloomberg.
The news comes five months after Fiat Chrysler chairman John Elkann said the company should work with companies like Apple and Google on self-driving cars, rather than try to compete with them.
It’s unclear right now what the main aim is for Google and Chrysler. Their vehicles could be used for testing, like those Google already has — but they could also be earmarked for limited deployment, perhaps in a commercial setting, later on.
Neither Google or Chrysler are speaking out about the partnership for now, but we hope to find out more when they do.