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Fiat boss: Google and Apple may disrupt car industry

Google driverless car Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Google is developing a driverless car

The traditional motor industry would be foolish to ignore moves by Google and Apple into car technology, said Fiat-Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne.

The chief executive of one of the world's biggest carmakers said the two US companies were "incredibly serious" about their automotive ambitions.

He said their move into driverless technology and electric vehicles could be "disruptive" for manufacturers.

Mr Marchionne commented on the tech giants' plans at the Geneva Motor Show.

He said it is always a good thing when someone new wants to shake up the industry, "but when you're the guy whose life is being disrupted, it's not necessarily a good feeling," he added.

Apple has several hundred people working on a car project, called Titan. The company's vast resources made it a potential tough competitor, although Mr Marchionne said he'd like to talk Apple about working on potential projects.

However, he said that neither Google nor Apple should "underestimate carmakers' ability to respond and adapt" to new competitive challenges.

'Disruptive interlopers'

Among Fiat-Chrysler's brands are Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, and Mr Marchionne says these companies are key to driving future profits.

Those brands arguably have greater immunity to what he calls the "disruptive interlopers" from Apple and Google, he said. "Why would you buy a Ferrari and not want to drive it?"

Meanwhile, the Fiat chief said the European car industry recovery continues to gain hold. He had been among the most pessimistic of motor industry chiefs about European sales, speaking of a "bloodbath" and "hell".

But he said: "The market is not as tough as it used to be. We're not fighting tooth and nail for the last dollar." The fall in the value of the euro was helping exports, and stimulus action by the European Central Bank was working, he said.

But he warned that conflict over the Russian-Ukraine situation risked setting back recovery. The economic consequences may yet "spill over into western Europe", he warned.

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