Fiat Chrysler talking with many non-core auto players: CEO

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) FCHA.MIFCAU.N is talking with many players outside the car sector about possible collaboration, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said, and is keeping an open mind on what the possibilities might be.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler, speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Car technology has become a prime area of interest for Silicon Valley companies including Alphabet Inc's GOOGL.O Google, which has built a prototype self-driving car, and Apple Inc AAPL.O, which Marchionne said earlier this month should collaborate with carmakers to make a vehicle rather than trying to go it alone.

The growing use of computing power in vehicles is providing technology companies and automakers with new business opportunities - and increasingly making them rivals.

“We have parallel conversations with many players who are outside the auto sector at the moment,” Marchionne said at an impromptu press conference after an industry event here.

“We can’t go into these discussions with a precise idea of what FCA wants. We’re learning, just as they are learning,” he said. “And the solution will be a shared solution and developed together with them, not developed by us alone.”

Marchionne, who has long-touted the need for further consolidation in the traditional auto sector, reiterated reasons for not linking up with French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen PEUP.PA, which has said it is open to strategic opportunities.

“We ... realized that even though there was a certain advantage in an association with PSA, it was an advantage that was too little and that in effect would limit the choices open to FCA going forward,” he said on Wednesday.

Marchionne indicated that any partner for FCA would have to be strong where FCA is weakest, in China, the world’s biggest auto market.

“The great advantage of FCA as potential partner”, said Marchionne, is that the company has a strong presence in Latin America where the market is weak at the moment, and in North America and Europe, but added, “we’re much weaker than the others in China. That’s something we are trying to ameliorate”

He, however, added that Latin America also continued to be a problem for FCA and its competitors, pointing to current political upheaval in Brazil. And while he welcomed the big changes being made by Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, he added that any gains in Argentina will not overcome weakness in Brazil, which is a much larger market.

Reporting by Jo Winterbottom; Editing by Himani Sarkar