6/16/2014

Vodafone Buys Vehicle-Tracking Software Company

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U.K.-based Vodafone Group plc has acquired 74% of Italian telematics provider Cobra Automotive Technologies SpA.

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U.K.-based Vodafone Group plc has acquired 74% of Italian telematics provider Cobra Automotive Technologies SpA. Terms were not disclosed.

Vodafone is the world's second-largest wireless carrier system after China Mobile Ltd. The company, which also has offered to buy the rest of Cobra Automotive from remaining shareholders, says the acquisition will help it expand its cellular services to include in-vehicle connectivity and services.

Cobra Automotive offers antitheft, park assist and/or telematic systems and tracking services for insurance companies, fleet operators and such carmakers as Audi, Bentley, Ferrari, Infiniti, Hyundai/Kia, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren, Nissan, Porsche, Renault, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen.

Vodafone already has deals with Audi, BMW and Volkswagen to supply in-vehicle SIM data cards, which carry service subscriber data.

The company's Cobra purchase is the latest move by wireless and Internet service providers to pursue the emerging vehicle connectivity market. In 2012 Verizon Communications Inc. bought Hughes Telematics Inc. And in May Google Inc. revealed plans to test its own self-driving minicar, which is designed to operate with no steering wheel or control pedals.