TomTom CEO says its maps destined for use in self-driving cars

Mon May 4, 2015 3:07am EDT
 
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By Toby Sterling

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch navigation company TomTom aims to become a main provider of technology for self-driving cars as it charts its way back to success after seven lean years, chief executive Harold Goddijn said.

Goddijn told Reuters that an overhaul of TomTom's digital mapping architecture lies behind a renaissance that has seen its automotive division win big contracts in recent months, prompting analyst upgrades and a 40 percent surge in its shares.

He said carmakers are now betting on TomTom as one of the few companies besides Google capable of providing location data good enough and fast enough to meet the safety requirements for computer assisted driving -- and ultimately, self-driving cars.

"We are seen by our customers as the guys with the right ideas on how you do those things," he said in a interview, relishing the company's comeback story.

A rare example of a global consumer electronics brand to come out of Europe in the 2000s, TomTom went into a tailspin after overpaying for digital map-maker TeleAtlas in 2008.

The market for its main product, personal navigation devices, entered a brutal decline. Prices fell and margins were crushed as cheaper competitors entered an increasingly saturated market for dashboard-mounted GPS systems, and smartphone navigation apps offered an even cheaper substitute.

With the PND market stabilizing, Goddijn thinks TomTom's other business lines are poised for a new cycle of growth.

Analysts' enthusiasm has been fired by contract wins with carmakers, including two with Volkswagen this year as well as deals with Fiat, Hyundai and Kia.   Continued...

 
A TomTom navigation device is seen in this photo illustration taken in Amsterdam February 28, 2012. REUTERS/Robin van Lonkhuysen/United Photos