Securing the ownership of Nokia’s Here mapping unit would allow the winner a strategic advantage in the competition that is widely forecasted to bring a massive automotive technology revolution – maybe the biggest since horses were replaced by the internal combustion engine.
The bidders for the mapping service division are many and showcase the unit’s importance – among them we can find a consortium led by Germany’s luxury trio, competing against Uber or one of China’s biggest search engines. The key prize could unlock a crucial portion of the autonomous vehicle puzzle. Nokia, the Finnish telecom giant, has announced it wants to sell its Here mapping unit since April and bidding has now reached a second round. The winner could ultimately have a strategic advantage on the road towards autonomous driving – which would rely on accurate mapping services. The three known groups consist of Uber, Baidu and private equity firm Apax Partners on one side – as the Chinese search engine already works with Here to provide services outside of China. The second interested party has BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz and the third group consists of China’s Tencent Holdings, NavInfo and Swedish buyout firm EQT Partners.
Last year, chief executive officer Michael Halbherr said that today around four out of five in-vehicle navigation systems use HERE’s maps, as the service provider uses high resolution. They are today accurate to inches, as Nokia’s vehicles packed with sensors, cameras, lasers and other devices are able to map the lanes and shoulder markers, nearby buildings, stop signs, traffic lights, surrounding vehicles, curbs and traffic cones.