A consortium of German premium carmakers agreed Monday to buy HERE, Nokia’s maps business, for about $2.8 billion in a move geared toward boosting their cars’ autonomous driving capabilities.
The BMW Group, Audi AG, and Daimler AG will hold equal stakes in HERE. They pooled their resources to outbid other interested acquirers in Silicon Valley and China, according to Reuters. Buying the mapping technology allows the car companies to offer new premium features—including self-driving capabilities—in their luxury vehicles, which gives them a better hand in their on-going battle against parts suppliers and software rivals in Uber, Google (GOOG), and Apple (AAPL).
Nokia was looking to shed its mapping division as part of its integration with Alcatel-Lucent, which it purchased in April.
HERE supplies digital maps to most of the world’s top automakers and to companies like Amazon (AMZN), Yahoo (YHOO), and Baidu. Its main competitor is Google Maps. There’s speculation that the German automakers’ purchase of HERE may prompt HERE’s current customers to embrace Google’s technology instead.
Self-driving cars rely on mapping systems to avoid traffic jams or accidents and to find electric charging stations.
“High-precision digital maps are a crucial component of the mobility of the future,” Dieter Zetsche, CEO and chairman of Daimler AG, said in a statement. The deal is aimed at “secur[ing] the independence of this central service for all vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and customers in other industries.”