Audi, BMW and Daimler accelerate driverless car plans with €2.8bn Nokia Here Maps deal

Lynsey Barber
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Nokia sells its mapping technology to German carmakers (Source: Getty)

A group formed of some of the world’s biggest car manufacturers has bought Here, the maps arm of former mobile giant Nokia, in a €2.8bn (£1.97bn) deal designed to help them step driverless car development up a gear.

German car firms Audi, BMW and Mercedes maker Daimler reportedly fought off competition from startup darling Uber, Chinese search engine Baidu and private equity firm Apax.

Nokia was spurred to sell its maps division, which is used by the likes of Garmin, BMW, and Facebook, after buying Alcatel-Lucent for €15.6bn earlier this year.

The car makers said the map technology will be used in the development of driverless car navigation systems.

Read more: Is Apple planning an iCar?

In a joint statement, they said the technology will be used in combination with real-time vehicle data to improve road safety and create innovative new products and services.

“Here will play a key role in the digital revolution of mobility, combining high definition maps and data from vehicles to make travel safer and easier for everyone,” said BMW chairman Harald Kruger.

The deal will give the three firms the advantage of owning their own mapping technology, meaning they don't have to rely on a platform they don't own. Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche said it secured "the independence of this central service for all vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and customers in other industries.”

Google has been one of the most prominent developers of the driverless car concept and is already testing them out on public roads in California, although they are still only at the prototype stage.

Read more: UK steps on it with £20m driverless car funding

Having dominated the taxi-ordering world, Uber has also made a play into driverless cars, opening a major research center in Pittsburgh earlier this year. Apple is also rumoured to be exploring self-driving autos.

“With this step we complete the latest stage of Nokia's transformation," said Nokia president and chief executive Rajeev Suri.

"We integrated the former Nokia Siemens Networks, divested our devices and services business, and have now reached agreement on a transaction for Here that we believe is the best path forward for our shareholders, as well as the customers and employees of Here. Going forward, we will focus on our planned combination with Alcatel-Lucent. Once that is complete, Nokia will be a renewed company, with a world-leading network technology and services business, as well as the licensing and innovation engine of Nokia Technologies,"

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