Daily Management Review

Auto Consortium for Digital Mapping in Expansion Talks says Daimler CEO


Auto Consortium for Digital Mapping in Expansion Talks says Daimler CEO
A German auto maker consortium which controls the HERE digital mapping business is in talks with potential new members, reported Reuters quoting Daimler's Chief Executive.  
In a step to develop self-driving cars,  Nokia's high definition maps business was bought by German carmakers BMW, Audi and Mercedes who agreed to pay 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion) in August last year.
The German auto makers Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW started negotiations with new potential members after the deal closed in December, Zetsche said in an interview embargoed for Sunday.
"If there are individual companies that are already raising their finger, then this is fast and pleasing. I do not think it will take very long until the first company gives a binding commitment to join," Zetsche said at a Mercedes-Benz driving event in Portugal.
In order to make it viable for use as a navigation tool for self-driving cars, the HERE mapping business needs additional investments to make it viable.
Apart from potentially spreading the cost across more members, the strategy of having more carmakers join the consortium and possibly improving the volume of live traffic information being fed to the map from vehicles on the road.
Considerations about taking up a stake in the HERE mapping consortium were also being made by carmakers Renault-Nissan, and supplier Continental, the companies said last week.
The ability of self-driving cars that are linked to wireless networks to perform functions such as recalculating a route to the nearest electric charging station or around a traffic jam or accident is given by intelligent mapping systems like HERE.
Since the consortium waited until the deal closed before talking to other partners, talks with third parties only started in the past two months, Zetsche said. He added that negotiations to close the deal became simpler as there were only three members in the consortium.
"Interest will not only be limited to Renault-Nissan and Continental," Zetsche added.
Analysts at Exane BNP Paribas have estimated that self-driving and connected car services could become a $50 billion market. Following Internet rival Alphabet’s unveiling of a prototype autonomous vehicle, Germany's carmakers decided to club together to bid for the asset to accelerate plans for self-driving cars.
The basis for interactive maps which include live data on traffic flows gathered by thousands of sensors on BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz vehicles will be enabled by the expansion by Daimler.
"It is clear that we want to aggressively expand this platform, we will make the means available to do this," Zetsche said.
Zetsche said that there are talks with the telecommunications industry about how to spread the availability of ultra-high-speed 5G networks.
Options about whether their cooperation on maps can be broadened are being evaluated by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, Zetsche said.
"When it concerns navigation, we have broadly identical needs. Setting communication standards, which language we should speak and what signals we send, we can decide together," Zetsche said.
"To get access to the right resources we will continue making acquisitions," Zetsche said. He explained that there are currently no live talks for a deal. Any further deals will be about buying smaller companies since Daimler has already bought the MyTaxi App, Zetsche said.

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