AUDI, BMW and Daimler’s $3 Billion Bet On HERE’s Mapping Business

When the German luxury automakers BMW, Audi and Daimler acquired HERE from Nokia last year for $3.1 billion, the motivation behind the purchase was largely viewed as having access to the company’s digital mapping resources, which are crucial to self-driving technology.

The new owners have larger plans for its proprietary maps and services that extend well beyond the car. And while HERE’s maps and data are essential to autonomous driving, they’re an equally crucial component in connected mobility services such as car-sharing and ride-sharing and the company plans to apply them in industries ranging from transport and logistics to utilities.

While highly accurate maps will help cars drive themselves by pinpointing their location down to 10 to 20 centimeters and distinguishing their surroundings, HERE said it plans to also leverage this data for new B2B applications, such as allowing utility companies to see as well as precisely measure, say, overhead power lines or DOTs to assess potholes and other pavement imperfections without having to send out personnel.

And as HERE’s German automaker owners as well as other car companies and businesses move into connected mobility, having extremely precise maps as well as rich location-based data will become indispensable and lucrative for licensing purposes. Audi parent company VW, BMW and Daimler have all heavily invested in car- and ride-sharing services, as have Ford, GM and other automakers. The popularity of alternative mobility services such as bike-sharing and the advent of multi-modal routing that encompasses a variety of transportation methods is also growing.

HERE sees immense opportunity in this market due to the need for its location-based services and data. HERE also plans to play a dual role in providing access to a comprehensive range of mobility services – everything from ride- and car-sharing to public transportation info and ticketing; at the same time supply a “custom acquisition channel” for service providers ranging from mobile device makers to social media platforms.

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