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Fiat teams up with Silicon Valley's Aurora on self-driving vehicles

New York

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles NV is partnering Silicon Valley startup Aurora Innovation Inc to develop and deploy a fleet of self-driving commercial vehicles in a bid to catch up with other carmakers that have invested heavily in the technology.

The two companies signed an agreement to integrate Aurora's self-driving platform into Fiat Chrysler's commercial vehicle lines in the US. They did not disclose the dollar value of the agreement, specify the number of vehicles to be deployed or say by when.

"As part of FCA's autonomous vehicle strategy, we will continue to work with strategic partners to address the needs of customers in a rapidly changing industry," Mike Manley, Fiat's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

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The announcement comes less than a week after the carmaker's talks to merge with Renault SA of France collapsed, raising questions about its ability to compete as a standalone company in an industry spending billions of dollars on future technologies.

In Aurora, Fiat Chrysler has a partner whose three co-founders are considered to be among the leading lights of the push to make self-driving cars a reality. The startup raised over half a billion dollars in February from backers including Sequoia Capital and Amazon.com. The deal adds another major carmaker to Aurora's growing stable of industry partners, which include Hyundai Motor Co and Volkswagen AG.

Fiat Chrysler already has an agreement to supply Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet Inc, with more than 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivans to create autonomous vehicles that could eventually be sold to the public. The Italian-American carmaker also joined a self-driving technology consortium led by BMW AG in 2017. BLOOMBERG