FCA partners with Harman, Google on connected-car platform

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News
Fiat Chrysler is partnering with Harman and Google for a connected-car system.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is aiming to equip all of its vehicles with a new connected platform by 2022, partnering on the technology with Harman and Google.

The connected-vehicle platform, slated to start rolling out on new vehicles later this year, is designed to prepare FCA's fleet for electrification, mobility services and smart-city technology. 

The new system will include over-the-air update capabilities and will be designed to eventually communicate with smart-city infrastructures. It will be equipped with 4G network connectivity and eventually support 5G.

Harman, a Samsung subsidiary that builds connected products for automakers, will lend its Ignite cloud-based platform to manage in-vehicle data. The system will predict maintenance needs, locate fuel and charging stations, and send traffic notifications and restaurant offers. 

Google's Android will provide more in-vehicle technology, including an app-based infotainment system and integration with mobile devices. A built-in cellular network would lay the groundwork to connect FCA's fleet for future autonomous driving and connected service initiatives.

"By selecting industry leaders such as Samsung and Google, we are making an efficient and responsible utilization of capital to provide advanced technological solutions to our customers worldwide," Harald Wester, FCA's chief technical officer, said in a Tuesday statement. "In collaboration with Harman-Samsung and Google, we have developed a flexible, easy-to-use and connected 'ecosystem' that not only deploys today's technology, but is also ready to integrate upcoming innovations."

FCA's connectivity efforts follow similar moves from its Detroit competitors. Ford Motor Co. plans for every new vehicle it sells by the end of this year to be "connected" to the internet by way of embedded modems. The move was one of the first mandates from CEO Jim Hackett when he was appointed to the role in 2017.

General Motors Co., which has been connecting all of its vehicles with OnStar for more than two decades, is also building out its Marketplace shop-and-drive app. GM in 2017 rolled out the Marketplace app in all newer Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC vehicles. It's an in-dash application that allows drivers to order coffee, buy gas or get discounts on oil change and GM accessories.

FCA has in recent years taken a more laissez-faire approach to participating in the technological evolution of the automotive industry. Late CEO Sergio Marchionne said he wanted the Italian-American automaker to forge partnerships in the tech field, betting on Silicon Valley’s tech prowess and calculating that those companies will move faster than traditional automakers.


Twitter: @NoraNaughton