AUBURN HILLS, Michigan — Fiat-Chrysler said it will partner with Google, installing the tech giant's automated self-driving system on about 100 hybrid versions of its new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
The addition of the Pacificas will more than double Google's test fleet of self-driving vehicles and could lead to a broader collaboration between the two companies.
It is Google's first direct partnership with an automaker.
"Working with Google provides an opportunity for FCA to partner with one of the world's leading technology companies to accelerate the pace of innovation in the automotive industry," said Sergio Marchionne, Fiat-Chrysler chief executive officer. "The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits."
Google executives have said the tech company does not intend to build its own self-driving vehicles, but instead wants to work with established auto manufacturers. Google has said its self-driving vehicle technology could be ready for production by 2020.
Google currently is testing about 70 self-driving prototypes — specially equipped versions of the Lexus RX 450h hybrid crossover as well as tiny "bubble" cars of its own design — in four states, including California, Texas, Washington and Arizona.
It plans to begin testing the first Pacificas later this year on its own test track before taking them on public roads.
Fiat-Chrysler began selling the new Pacifica in April at Chrysler dealerships. The company plans to add a plug-in hybrid version, which will be modified by Google and Fiat-Chrysler.
Google said it will "collaborate closely with FCA engineers" to install the self-driving systems in the Pacifica hybrid, including computers, software and sensors. Both companies will work together at an engineering facility in southeastern Michigan to integrate Google's system into the Pacifica.
"FCA has a nimble and experienced engineering team and the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan is well-suited for Google's self-driving technology," said John Krafcik, chief executive officer of Google's self-driving car project. "The opportunity to work closely with FCA engineers will accelerate our efforts to develop a fully self-driving car that will make our roads safer and bring everyday destinations within reach for those who cannot drive."
Edmunds says: This collaboration may bring a self-driving car to your driveway sooner than expected.