Germany: German automotive developers, Bosch and Continental, have acquired 5% shares each in digital maps platform, HERE, according to a report. The acquisition aims to build a lead in self-driving car technology without relying on Silicon Valley. The announcement was made by the two companies on Thursday, with adding that HERE would pave the way for technologies that facilitate the reliable availability of highly accurate data to improve systems and traffic management.
Bosch also aims to turn the company from a producer of maps for cars into a broader offering in the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. It envisions creating indoor navigation maps for automating and streamlining goods “all the way to the production line”. Car parts supplier Continental said the initiative would support the needs of the car and mobility industries across all major markets.
HERE, whose high-definition, three-dimensional maps are already being used as an open platform to propel the development of self-driving cars, was purchased from Nokia in 2015 for €2.8 billion by Audi, BMW and Daimler. “Bosch is more than cars,” said Volkmar Denner, Bosch chief executive. “Industry 4.0, smart homes, and smart cities are rapidly growing areas of business for us, in which establishing and expanding data-based services will result in synergies with HERE.”
Elmar Degenhart, chief executive of Continental, said: “Digital maps and location-based services are key innovations for the future of connected mobility.” Edzard Overbeek, chief executive of HERE, added that Bosch’s presence “across the Americas, Asia and Europe” would help HERE to “further grow our business globally”.
Bosch, a private German company, is the world’s largest automotive supplier but is also a tech service and manufacturing company involved with sensors, software and artificial intelligence. Revenue in 2016 was €73.1 billion and it hosts its own “Internet of Things” cloud service for connecting products. Continental is best known for making tyres but also develops technologies and services for the world’s biggest car groups.
Its 2016 revenue was €40.5 billion. Bosch has been working with a variety of mapping rivals in recent years and was rumored to be considering a stake in HERE in early 2016. It said on Thursday that it would continue working on “road signature” software, which aims to help self-driving cars navigate and understand traffic signs, with Dutch mapmaker TomTom, Japanese mapmaker Increment P, and three Chinese mapmakers: AutoNavi, Baidu and NavInfo.
In the past year, HERE’s partnerships have expanded as the race to build self-driving cars and related platforms. Intel, the US chipmaker, purchased a 15% stake in HERE a year ago and pledged to enable the mapping service to identify a vehicle’s location “within centimetres”.
In September, Japanese electronics group Pioneer — parent of Increment P — partnered with HERE and acquired a 1% stake. The groups said the deal would “support innovations in the areas of in-vehicle infotainment and autonomous driving”. Both stakes require antitrust approval.