Fiat joins BMW-led group to develop driverless cars

Marchionne's Maserati spinoff lacks traction

But on a conference call with financial analysts last month, Mr. Marchionne said FCA is open to automated driving technology partnerships with others as well.

Earlier this year, the alliance announced its plan to test 40 autonomous cars on public roads by the end of 2017.

The timing of the news coincides with reports that FCA is in the midst of a lucrative offer from a Chinese automaker to buy substantial parts of the company's assets, including the brands of Jeep and Fiat.

Santa Clara, Calif. -based chipmaker Intel agreed to acquire Israel-based Mobileye, an autonomous vehicle technology firm, for $15.3 billion in March.

FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne said there would be the "synergies and economies of scale" in joining the alliance.

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Fiat Chrysler also has a partnership to provide vehicles and install technology developed by Waymo, Google's autonomous auto unit. The group's goal is to bring fully automated vehicles into production by 2021.

The partnership between BMW, Intel and Mobileye for self-driving technology has lured another automaker into the fold.

FCA's contribution to the group effort will be to add additional engineering and technical resources to the mix, and to act as a vector for the eventual resulting self-driving platform.

More automakers are seeking alliances to share the high costs of developing self-driving vehicle technology, which requires extensive research and development and software expertise outside the traditional domain of carmakers. While the company did agree in 2015 to build minivans for Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOG) Waymo self-driving project, that pact fell short of a broad alliance.

"The future of transportation relies on auto and tech industry leaders working together to develop a scalable architecture that automakers around the globe can adopt and customize", Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, said in a statement. In addition to more money, the partnership will now benefit from the huge volume of Fiat Chrysler's' business: from the volume it sells, to the manufacturing capability it has.

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