Did Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne tip his hand at ongoing talks with Google earlier this week?
The Wall Street Journal and autoextremist.com reported today that FCA was in the final stages of discussion with Alphabet Inc.’s Google on a technology partnership that reportedly involves the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, the automaker’s new minivan. Both cited a source familiar with the talks in their reporting, and said the discussions had been ongoing since January.
Both FCA US and Google have officially declined to comment on the reports.
However, during a call with analysts Tuesday as FCA delivered first-quarter results, Marchionne was asked about potential partnerships with nonautomotive companies. The question came from Alberto Villa, head of research at Intermonte SpA in Milan.
Here’s Marchionne’s response, in full:
“Look, our view has historically been that we need to keep a very open mind. We cannot be selective or exclusive in terms of the arrangements that we make with some of these potential partners, and I think dialogue continues with people who are interested in exploring their relevance in the automotive world and we will continue to help them try and find a way out. And time will tell,” Marchionne said.
“I think that we need time to find out whether some of these arrangements are commercially relevant to FCA. But hopefully we'll have something to say within 2016 on that matter publicly. I can't say anything up to now. I mean, it's just whatever is going on is confidential in nature.”
Kelley Blue Book Managing Editor Matt DeLorenzo said in emailed comments that a tie-up with Google could put FCA, which lags behind competitors in Silicon Valley, “back into a leadership position when it comes to future tech, including autonomous vehicles.”