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Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in. That seems to be the way things are going with the celebrity couple everyone’s talking about – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Renault. Technically it would be FCA plus Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. Fiat-Chrysler proposed a merger to Renault but eventually got cold feet and FCA and Renault ended the merger. However, in the wake of competition building alternative fuel vehicles and partnering with startups for self-driving technology, FCA did the same when it invested in Aurora Innovation, a California start-up working on autonomous technology, and FCA partnered with ENGIE and Enel X for EV charging technology. Coming up this week (June 23 – 30, 2019), two meetings are set to take place behind closed doors in Japan, and depending on which way the pendulum sways, the merger might be back on.
Let’s back up a bit. When FCA first proposed a merger with Renault, it was a bold move. If Fiat Chrysler and Renault merged, they would have become the world’s third-largest carmaker to date. Not only this but let’s not forget about the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and their current funding campaign, Alliance Ventures. Over the course of five years, the alliance will be investing $1 billion to support innovation, start-ups, and entrepreneurs in self-driving and alternative fuel technology. FCA invested $30 million into turning their Chelsea Proving Grounds into an Autonomous Testing Facility. If the two automotive groups shared vehicle engineering and cooperation in areas such as purchasing and R&D, as per suggested in the original merger proposal, together, they would save over $50 billion a year.
When it comes to business, it’s a win for the two to work together. The executives of all three companies – FCA, Renault, and Nissan - remain open to the idea of the merger proposal and there’s hope to discuss it once more. The funny thing is, all of this happened right around the time the self-driving car and company Waymo entering a global partnership with Renault-Nissan. Yes, it’s a little weird right? Seeing as how the entire Waymo fleet is made up of modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid units, it’s almost like FCA partnered with Renault-Nissan at face value but hasn’t shaken hands just yet.
Apparently, Waymo will be working with Renault and Nissan to research how commercial autonomous vehicles could play a role in future commercial services such as transporting passengers and delivering packages. They will start testing these services in France and Japan and are calling it an “initial period” where they test the practicality of an autonomous market on a global scale. According to blah, Waymo will be using this partnership and the testing phase and then expand, just like Waymo is slowly doing across America with their self-driving car and autonomous ride-hailing service, Waymo One. Following France and Japan, the plan is to go to possibly China or other countries throughout Eurasia.
A lot of the new partnership is placing a heavy reliance on Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi’s current success in Europe with their alternative fuel technology and EV models. With the European and Asian market more willing to embrace these types of vehicles, they may also more quickly embrace self-driving vehicles. Renault is like the kid who lets another kid stand on his shoulders to grab the cookie jar.
“This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global stage, with an innovative partner…With the Alliance’s international reach and scale, our Waymo Driver can deliver transformational mobility solutions to safely serve riders and commercial deliveries in France, Japan, and other countries.” - Krafcik said in a statement.
Just like grabbing a cookie jar. Follow NowCar on social media to find out if the vote on the merger goes through.