Here consortium on brink of expanding membership

Here, the digital mapping business acquired from Nokia by Daimler, Audi and BMW, has already opened talks with potential new partners including auto makers Renault-Nissan and telematics company Continental, the CEO of Daimler revealed.

Dieter Zetsche told Reuters that the companies could be the first new members to join the consortium of German car makers that completed a €2.8 billion ($3 billion) acquisition of Here in December. The consortium is seeking additional members to spread the cost of developing Here's software for the field of autonomous vehicles and boost its abilities in that area by increasing the amount of live traffic data generated.

The Daimler chief predicted that the confirmation of new members to the Here consortium would happen quickly, and said he was pleased by the speed with which potential new partners have opened talks, Reuters reported.

Talk of new partners came just days after Here announced it had deepened an existing collaboration with Samsung that will see the mapping company's APIs opened to third party developers in Samsung's connected car ecosystem.

Zetsche said the consortium of German car makers is adopting an aggressive expansion strategy for Here that will see the trio utilise sensors on their respective vehicles to develop interactive maps. The companies are also discussing 5G technology with the telecoms industry, the news agency stated.

Here has already evaluated the potential of LTE networks as a means of offering the kind of cooperative intelligent transport system (C-ITS) that Zetsche envisions.

In October, the mapping company announced it had completed a small-scale C-ITS trial in conjunction with the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT). The pilot utilised 4G technology to offer notifications of traffic conditions and potential road hazards, and paved the way for a broader trial named NordicWay covering the use of C-ITS services on a corridor of roads running through Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Zetsche told Reuters that membership of the Here buyers consortium was initially kept small to ease the acquisition of the company. The speed of decision making is another benefit, he noted, explaining that the three companies are exploring a potential expansion of their mapping services.

Here could also seek opportunities beyond the connected car, according to newly appointed CEO Edzard Overbeek.

In a statement announcing his appointment, Overbeek commented that Here's location cloud technology could be used in "everything from autonomous cars and smart cities to digitising enterprises."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- view Here's Samsung release (PDF)
- read Here's CEO announcement (PDF)

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