As Silicon Valley giants Google, Apple and Facebook increase their efforts in boosting their mapping services to strengthen partnerships with various members of the automotive industry, three of the biggest German automakers join forces with Chinese IT group Baidu in order to compete with them.
BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz have formed a consortium that includes China's Baidu that will make a formal bid to acquire a majority stake of Nokia’s mapping service called Here in order to control part of the technology needed to manufacture and operate autonomous vehicles.
"The greatest threat to the automobile industry would be if Google developed an operating system for self-driving cars and made it available free to everyone. We need the map for the operating system in the cars," according to a source familiar with the situation.
One of the reason why Nokia’s Here is highly coveted is because of the fact that it is currently being used by General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Honda Motor Company, Nissan Motor Company, Renault SA and is also used by about 80% of vehicles with on-board navigation systems in the U.S. and Europe making it one of the most advanced mapping services available.
By acquiring Here, the German automakers will be able to map out the future of self-driving vehicles on their own terms.
The 'consortium' is so keen on this endeavor that they have purportedly approached German Chancellor Angela Merkel, requesting her to ask the Finnish government for support regarding on the bid.
Nokia has indicated that Here’s value is around US$2.24 billion.
Source: Wall Street Journal