Fiat Chrysler talking with many non-core auto players: CEO

Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:19pm EDT
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By Jo Winterbottom

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) (FCHA.MI: Quote) (FCAU.N: Quote) is talking with many players outside the car sector about possible collaboration, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said, and is keeping an open mind on what the possibilities might be.

Car technology has become a prime area of interest for Silicon Valley companies including Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O: Quote) Google, which has built a prototype self-driving car, and Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote), which Marchionne said earlier this month should collaborate with carmakers to make a vehicle rather than trying to go it alone.

The growing use of computing power in vehicles is providing technology companies and automakers with new business opportunities - and increasingly making them rivals.

"We have parallel conversations with many players who are outside the auto sector at the moment," Marchionne said at an impromptu press conference after an industry event here.

"We can't go into these discussions with a precise idea of what FCA wants. We're learning, just as they are learning," he said. "And the solution will be a shared solution and developed together with them, not developed by us alone."

Marchionne, who has long-touted the need for further consolidation in the traditional auto sector, reiterated reasons for not linking up with French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA: Quote), which has said it is open to strategic opportunities.

"We ... realized that even though there was a certain advantage in an association with PSA, it was an advantage that was too little and that in effect would limit the choices open to FCA going forward," he said on Wednesday.

Marchionne indicated that any partner for FCA would have to be strong where FCA is weakest, in China, the world's biggest auto market.   Continued...

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler, speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 11, 2016.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook