UPDATE 3-Google, Fiat Chrysler team up on self-driving minivans

Wed May 4, 2016 7:29am EDT
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* Fiat Chrysler, Google to jointly develop self-driving cars

* Alliance is first of its kind between tech and auto company

* Computer driven autonomous vehicles creates new opporunities (Adds background on Fiat's search for partnerships)

By Bernie Woodall and Edward Taylor

DETROIT/FRANKFURT, May 4 (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV have agreed to work together to build a fleet of 100 self-driving minivans, marking the first time that a Silicon Valley firm has teamed up with a traditional carmaker to develop an autonomous vehicle.

Google and Fiat said the deal announced on Tuesday was the first time Google has worked directly with an automaker "to integrate its self-driving system, including its sensors and software, into a passenger vehicle."

The growing use of computing power in vehicles is paving the way for intelligent, self-driving cars, creating new rivalries and business opportunities for both technology companies and automakers.

Unlike its rival premium carmakers Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen unit Audi, cash-strapped Fiat Chrysler has decided to turn to an industry outsider to develop intelligent, self-driving cars, not having the resources to do the work alone.

Fiat Chrysler has a net debt pile of 6.6 billion euros ($7.6 billion) and Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has been trying unsuccessfully for more than a year to persuade rivals, including GM, to consider a merger to help spread the rising costs of research and development.   Continued...