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Here is the place to be for Intel

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Intel has continued on its journey to discover fortunes in the autonomous vehicles after seeking approval to buy a stake in digital mapping firm Here.

The chipmaker has put forward a filing to Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the country’s national competition regulator, to outline its intentions for the indirect acquisition of shares in Here. The mapping tech firm is currently owned jointly by Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen after a $2.6 billion acquisition from Nokia, though NavInfo and Tencent intend to jointly acquire a 10% share.

While Intel is still a major technology brand worldwide, its influence has declined slightly in recent years as the PC segment also deteriorates. Intel is not a company which will disappear overnight, however to re-establish the same highs as the ‘Wintel’ days, the business will have to re-define priorities for the digital era. Fortunately, the team has already made steps towards the autonomous vehicles segment.

In November, Intel execs proving ambitions in this space was more than just talk. Alongside the creation of a new operating division in the business (the Automated Driving Group), the management team have convinced Doug Davis (an Intel heavy hitter) to put retirement plans on hold to lead said group and committed $250 million from its venture capitalist arm to invest in the segment.

The investment in Here will be another solid step forward due to the importance of digital mapping technologies in autonomous vehicles. Effective mapping technologies are as important to autonomous vehicles as the wheels on the car itself. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval however Intel is slowly positioning itself in the centre of a highly lucrative industry, and also alongside some potentially serious players as well.

Aside from numerous major automotive manufacturers, Here has also established relationships with Tencent and Alibaba Cloud, the latter it partnered with back in October. There are bigger and more prominent companies in the worldwide technology industry, though few offer as clear a route into China as these two.

The country has some lofty ambitions for the autonomous vehicles industry. The government recently released “The Technology Road Map For Energy Saving and New Energy Vehicles” whitepaper, which Forbes kindly translated, which states by 2020, 50% of car sales would be partially-autonomous, by 2025, 15% of sales will be highly-automated, and by 2030 10% of all car sales will be fully-autonomous. That’s roughly 4 million fully-autonomous cars a year. Just to put things in perspective, in 2015 2.63 million new cars were sold in the UK. This is the most ever sold in a 12-month period.

For the moment, there is a lot of jostling in the autonomous cars industry. The leaders will not be known for some time, though a strong position in the fast-developing Chinese market may prove to be a decisive move, for any competitors. In the mapping technologies race, Here seemingly has access to China and Google Maps doesn’t. This could put Intel in a pretty good position.

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