Japan’s Pioneer teams up with digital mapping company HERE

By Eric Auchard

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Pioneer and digital mapping group HERE said on Tuesday they had agreed to invest in one another so the companies can develop maps for autonomous driving services.

They said they aimed to develop car infotainment and autonomous driving, and products for other industries needing location data. The deal also allows Berlin-based HERE to offer maps of Japan to its customers.

The agreement builds on a partnership announced earlier this year in which HERE will work with Pioneer’s mapping subsidiary, Increment P, to develop global, high resolution maps and location data services.

Under the deal, HERE has agreed to buy 11.12 million newly issued shares of Pioneer common stock, representing a 3 percent stake in Pioneer at a price of 17.3 million euros ($20.7 million, or 2.31 billion yen).

For the same price, Pioneer will take a stake in HERE of less than 1 percent through an investment vehicle jointly controlled by HERE’s majority shareholders, Audi, part of Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE>, BMW and Daimler.

The investments are set to close on Oct. 5, they said.

Pioneer, once best known for its car stereos, now gets most of its revenue from automotive electronics for infotainment and navigation as well as factory automation and lighting.

The Tokyo-based company is also developing low-cost 3D laser cameras, known as LiDAR, that are vital for maps used in autonomous driving.

The company is a supplier to major Japanese automakers including Toyota and Honda, as well as Chinese, North American and European car brands.

HERE targets selected investors among car makers, mapping companies and technology providers that fit its global plans to develop high resolution maps for autonomous driving, Chief Executive Edzard Overbeek said last week. (http://reut.rs/2xtPucB)

In addition to the three German luxury car groups, HERE shareholders include chipmaker Intel Corp, with a 15 percent stake. Chinese internet group Tencent, Chinese mapmaker NavInfo and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC have taken undisclosed stakes in a deal that allows HERE to deliver mapping services in China using NavInfo’s map data.

(Editing by Jane Merriman)

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