PSA and FCA Face Losing Out in Driverless Race

Data researchers are claiming the PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) could be the big losers in bringing autonomous products to market.

A study by Ptolemus Consulting Group, a research firm focused on connected and autonomous mobility, compared 16 automakers globally and claims that most are struggling to keep up with digital technology giants in the race towards driverless vehicles. Its OEM Readiness for Autonomous Vehicles Global Study points out the automakers who are overcoming the complexities of commercial-grade Level 4 automation and which are not.

For example, it highlights FCA which has ditched its own AV program and, instead, supplies Waymo the Chrysler Pacifica and risks turning into just a de facto Tier 1 supplier for technology companies developing autonomous cars. By the same token, PSA has stepped away from Level 4 automation to focus instead on the less challenging on Level 1 to Level 3 and ADAS areas, explaining the cost to achieve Level 4 would be too great threatening its profit margins.

Based on its bottom-up investigation of automakers’ AV development, Ptolemus predicts that launching an autonomous program will require relentless simulation and real world testing prior to launch. It also says carmakers must extend current areas of operational testing to more challenging “real-world” environments, rather than the constrained “safe zones” currently in use, in order to make them a global commercial success.

The company’s managing director, Frederic Bruneteau, said: “As Waymo launched its commercial robo-taxi service, all OEMs are struggling, delaying their launch dates and even partnering with competitors. We expect that most car makers, such as Tesla, who have bet on private autonomous cars will not be able to launch at an affordable price before 2025.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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