Fiat Chrysler has a secret self-driving car project, according to The Information, who make the claim in an extraordinarily vague op-ed entitled “Fiat’s Secret Self-Driving Car Shows How The Industry May Evolve.”
So, does FCA actually have a secret self-driving car project?
I’m a big fan of The Information, but there’s so little information in their article that it’s almost impossible to know what FCA has, if anything. Let’s deconstruct the article paragraph by paragraph and try to separate fact from conjecture.
“Fiat Chrysler has garnered outsized headlines for becoming the first traditional carmaker to make electric minivans with self-driving technology designed by Alphabet’s Waymo.”
Fact. Not a surprise as much as an insurance policy against total irrelevance in an autonomous future. FCA had never previously admitted to the existence of any self-driving research program, so any deal with Waymo opens the door for them to become Waymo’s automotive Foxconn, a role Daimler famously rejected but FCA would seem to need.
“Behind the scenes, however, Fiat Chrysler is developing its own autonomous vehicles so that it won’t be just a metal bender for tech companies like Waymo, The Information has learned.”
Really? This suggests FCA has a real program, as in a team capable building a self-driving car, which means they now join the other thirteen major manufacturers with a similar program with varying degrees of progress.
Or does it?