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How Stellantis will tackle its electric future

Breana Noble, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

On autonomy, though, the automaker is taking a greater outsourcing approach, leveraging FCA's collaboration with Waymo. Last July, the companies extended their partnership from FCA supplying Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to be outfitted with Waymo's technology for its robotaxi service in Phoenix.

Waymo agreed to work exclusively with FCA on level-four autonomous light vehicles for commercial delivery customers, using Ram vans. Waymo also is FCA's exclusive partner in providing level-four autonomous technology capable of doing all driving tasks under certain conditions across its portfolio.

"We are going to execute this strategic partnership and make those autonomous vehicles with the Waymo software technology," Tavares said, "which is the best way, of course, to learn ... and of course, to come up with the appropriate projects that will be announced shortly."

Electrification is more imminent than autonomy, making it less pressing for manufacturers to design their own systems, Abuelsamid said: "There is less differentiation there once these systems are matured. It's more of a commodity product."

Despite working with Waymo, Tavares emphasized the need for tech talent in-house to decouple software development from hardware lead times and to keep products up-to-date through over-the-air upgrades. A mid-size plug-in hybrid luxury sedan has 80 million lines of code — roughly three times that for a mid-size airplane, he noted.

 

"It's about making sure that we scale up in the way we use the data and the way we use artificial intelligence," Tavares said.

For now, Jeep is leading the way for the company in rolling out level-two "hands-off" driving on approved roadways late this year on the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer models. The technology can drive at all speeds, center the vehicle in a lane, slow the vehicle in tight curves, resume control after driver override and verify the driver is paying attention to the road, according to Stellantis.

GM and Ford offer similar features with their Super Cruise and Co-Pilot360 technology, respectively, on certain vehicles. Companies like VW are budgeting more than $33 billion to develop such software in-house in the next five years, Morgan Stanley's Hendrikse observed.

"Does STLA have the resources to compete?" he wrote, using the ticker symbol for Stellantis. "Will any of the OEMs even succeed? We continue to believe a more limited technology partnership strategy is both lower risk, and more likely to succeed."

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