Three rival German automakers are buying Nokia's digital maps division, HERE, a frontrunner in high-precision cartography. The maps are especially useful in the development of autonomous driving systems.
German car companies Audi, BMW and Daimler announced on Monday that they would be banding together to purchase HERE from Finland's Nokia, with each company acquiring an equal stake and none seeking to achieve a majority interest.
The three auto giants hailed the deal, which value HERE at around 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion), as a way to counter the rising influence of Apple and Google in the coming era of self-driving cars as both technology companies are investing heavily in autonomous driving software.
BMW's chief executive, Harald Krüger, said HERE would play a "key roll in the digital mobility revolution." Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche called high-precision digital maps "a crucial component of the mobility of the future."
Such maps provide closely detailed analyses of streets and traffic conditions, which are the basis for the software behind driverless cars.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, pending regulatory approval. It would see Nokia, which has shifted its business model to focus more on manufacturing equipment for wireless networks after selling its mobile phone division to Microsoft, receive just over 2.5 billion euros from the sale.
The remaining 300 million euros from the sale would be made up of compensation for Audi, BMW and Daimler for HERE liabilities.
cjc/hg (AP, dpa)