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10 January 2017

Here’s new owners open Chinese opportunities

The companies which acquired Here from Nokia – Audi, BMW and Daimler – have reduced their one-third stakes to 25% each, selling 15% of the total to Intel and another 10% to a group of Chinese companies (Tencent, NavInfo and GIC).

With the Chinese transaction, Here is launching a strategic partnership with NavInfo (a location and mapping platform in China, essentially a rival to Here) and Tencent (an absolute monolith in the Chinese internet markets). The trio plans to develop best-in-class location services for the Chinese market.

Here and NavInfo will form a 50:50 joint venture to target the Chinese industries, with Here extending its current portfolio of services (which includes the automotive stuff, as well as a growing presence in things like web and mobile applications) to China.

The Here Auto SDK will be localized to suit the Chinese market, with plans to collaborate to create and provision the HD maps that will be required for autonomous vehicles in China. The two companies are also planning to target applications like fleet management and asset tracking through the joint venture.

NavInfo’s CEO, Patrick Cheng, said “the automotive industry is on the eve of revolution to autonomous driving and alternative energy. We are excited about joining forces and uniting market leaders. NavInfo and Here have a more than 10-year cooperation history, and are now both in transformation phase.”

As for Tencent’s involvement, the internet titan is planning on using Here’s maps in its local and international services, as well as general product development collaboration. Julian Ma, Tencent’s VP Mobile Internet Group, said the deal “demonstrates our commitment to connect our users with best-in-class services. Combining Here’s world-leading technologies with Tencent’s social strength, unique understanding of user behavior and broad location data ecosystem, this collaboration further enhances Tencent’s location services. It also facilitates Tencent’s exploration of future technologies, including autonomous driving and AI.”

Tencent’s main rival Baidu was recently involved with BMW in plans to build a Baidu-powered self-driving car. However, back in December, BMW abruptly ended its development relationship with Baidu, citing irreconcilable differences, with Baidu announcing that it would be searching for another manufacturing partner – and having previously used Cherry vehicles in tests, alongside BMW. Baidu has also partnered with Nvidia to use the company’s Drive PX2 computers in its vehicles.

Also at CES, Here introduced Electronic Horizon, a system that can provide real time alerts to cars. Electronic Horizon is based on Here’s Sensoris, which it is pushing as a global standard via ERTICO’s Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) working group.