Garmin acquires NAVIGON, as Toyota ramps up deployment of its Touch & Go infotainment system

Garmin acquires NAVIGON, as Toyota ramps up deployment of its Touch & Go infotainment system

Garmin acquired navigation provider NAVIGON, substantiating rumors first reported in the Financial Times Deutschland. NAVIGON, which is headquartered in Germany, will operate as a subsidiary of Garmin. In addition to its automotive OEM and navigation application for smartphones, NAVIGON has an estimated seven percent share in portable navigation devices in Europe. Garmin’s acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction have not been released. “This acquisition is a great complement to Garmin’s existing automotive and mobile business,” says Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s president and COO. “NAVIGON has invested significantly in the European automotive OEM business, and we feel that we can rapidly expand our automotive OEM footprint and capabilities through this transaction.”

Daimler chose Garmin to supply navigation software for future Daimler automotive models. Details of the deal, which was reported in Reuters, remain undisclosed. Garmin has publicized that it sees the automotive sector as a critical driver of growth for navigation device vendors, who are struggling to fend off free navigation solutions from the likes of Google and Nokia.

TomTom launched version 5.0 of TomTom HD Traffic. The service communicates real-time traffic information to TomTom LIVE devices. Among other additions, the latest version includes automatic road closures, pinpointing the exact section of the route that is disrupted. Improved standstill detection makes it easier to locate and avoid traffic jams. Drivers who already have a subscription to TomTom HD Traffic will automatically receive the update directly to their devices.

Toyota announced plans to release a new Yaris subcompact hatchback in Europe equipped with Toyota’s Touch & Go infotainment system. The company plans to make Touch & Go standard equipment on 95 percent of Yaris sales and believes it will usher in a new standard for affordable, multimedia connectivity. The Touch & Go infotainment system offers drivers an embedded touchscreen display with navigation, connected services, and mobile apps. The system was introduced on Toyota's Verso-S minivan in early 2011.

NAVTEQ released NAVTEQ Natural Guidance in India. The product delivers guidance that sounds like it’s coming from a friend riding alongside the driver and makes use of static orientation points, such as points of interest, landmarks, and traffic lights. NAVTEQ research found that approximately 70 percent of drivers in India stop to ask for directions each time they drive, averaging at two stops per trip. NAVTEQ Natural Guidance is currently available for Mumbai and Delhi with continuous expansion planned to more cities throughout India.

Trimble acquired Yamei Electronics Technology, a Chinese manufacturer of automotive electronics products used for anti-theft GPS monitoring and tracking, RFID-based smart key, and on-board diagnostics systems. Yamei serves customers such as SGM China, Geely, Gaungzhou Hino Motors, and Toyota Logistics. The acquisition is expected to expand Trimble's solutions for automotive and allow the company to better address markets in China, Asia Pacific, and India. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Nuance Communications acquired SVOX, a provider of voice solutions for in-car systems and consumer electronics. Nuance believes that the combination of the two companies will accelerate the development of new voice capabilities that enable natural, conversational interactions between consumers and their connected cars. SVOX’s portfolio will supplement Nuance’s advanced signal enhancement technologies, including echo cancellation and beamforming that enable increased voice recognition accuracy in automotive, mobile, and digital home environments.

A study entitled “iCar: The younger generation and the networked car” concluded that the majority of drivers aged 18 to 25 are eager to buy fully networked cars and view reliable Internet access as a prerequisite. The study was conducted by the Center of Automotive at the Bergisch Gladbach University of Applied Sciences. More than half of those surveyed not only want to listen to music but to be able to download current songs straightaway from the car radio. More than 30 percent want to reliably send e-mails while on the road and be able to get in touch with friends via social networks like Facebook. More than 40 percent would also like to be able to make phone calls on the Internet, through services like Skype, while moving about in their cars. “It is basically true that the younger generation views networking as an extremely important matter,” says Dr. Stefan Bratzel, head of the Center of Automotive. “It all comes down to the need to develop vehicle-specific networking services. These have to create added value in the vehicle – more, that is, than what an iPhone or smartphone already provides.”

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