Google’s self-driving car fleet has been decidedly Toyota-heavy since the project’s inception, with the vast majority of the fleet consisting of Toyota Prius and Lexus RX 450h hybrids. If a new report is to be believed, it looks as though Google may be throwing Fiat Chrysler a bone (and a vote of confidence) by adding several dozen of the company’s newly launched Pacifica minivans to its self-driving vehicle fleet.
Citing sources that “asked not to be identified,” Bloomberg says that Google and Chrysler have nearly finalized the partnership and an announcement could be made a soon as today. Naturally, representatives for both companies have declined to comment on the report.
Google’s self-driving fleet began with second generation Prii (yes, that is the official plural term for Prius), and continues today with the previous generation RX 450h and Google’s own Cozy Coupe-esque autonomous vehicle. But the Pacifica, which can seat up to 8 people, will be the largest vehicle yet that Google has tested on public roads.
The 2017 Pacifica has won praise in automotive circles and from consumers for its avant-garde styling both inside and out. The standard powertrain on the new Pacifica is Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 which generates 287hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. However, the attention-grabbing feature of the Pacific is its optional plug-in hybrid variant (a first in the American minivan sector) that uses a revised version of the aforementioned Pentastar V6, a 16 kWh battery pack and dual electric motors to produce a total of 260hp. Chrysler says that the plug-in Pacifica can deliver 80 MPGe in the city and can travel up to 30 miles on battery power alone.
Given Google’s preference for hybrid vehicles from Toyota, we reckon that the company will choose the plug-in hybrid Pacifica to add to its self-driving fleet. Stay tuned or more details as they become available.
**Updated May 3rd at 4:15pm**
Google and Fiat Chrysler this afternoon confirmed the business deal. Chrysler will provide Google with 100 modified plug-in hybrid Pacificas, after which Google will install its own self-driving software and hardware. The addition of the Pacifica Hybrids will more than double Google’s current self-driving fleet.
Read more at http://hothardware.com/news/google-reportedly-partnering-with-chrysler-on-self-driving-pacifica-minivans#e54Q25ciKclqyxqa.99
by Brandon Hill