Jeremy Steinberg
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German automakers buy Nokia maps unit for $3.1 billion

Luxury European automakers Audi, BMW and Daimler have teamed up to acquire Nokia's mapping and location services business for 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion).

The three companies will hold equal stakes in the unit, called Here, and have agreed not to seek a majority interest. Here's mapping technology is expected to play a huge role in the development of driverless cars.


"Here will be able to offer users a continuously improving product, bringing highly automated driving and location based services a step further," board members from the three companies said in a statement.

The automakers pledged to keep Here's management team in place, and to keep the service open to all customers. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Uber reportedly also made a bid worth as much as $3 billion a few months ago for the Nokia (NOK)unit, which currently provides mapping and location data for nearly 200 countries in over 50 languages.

Nokia's mapping technology is already used by a number of automakers -- its maps can be found in roughly 80% of cars with integrated in-dash navigation systems in North America and Europe.

Having real-time information can help drivers avoid road hazards -- icy streets, for example, and potential traffic jams, possibly reducing the risk of accidents.

Plus, it helps automakers reduce their reliance on Google (GOOG) maps.

By Sophia Yan