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Vodafone puts the pedal to the metal, wants to buy Cobra Automotive

The operator aims to offer a more complete package of services for car makers

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Mobile network operator Vodafone wants buy Cobra Automotive Technologies in order to offer a larger range of connected-car services.

Cobra provides vehicle manufacturers, dealerships and insurance companies with telematics and vehicle tracking services. Cobra's customers includes Audi, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Nissan, Porsche, Renault and Tesla, according to the company's website.

Acquiring Cobra will allow Vodafone to provide a more comprehensive range of services to automotive customers, it said Monday.

The mobile service provider will make an offer in the coming weeks that values the Italian company at €145 million (US$196 million). It has already entered into an agreement with the main shareholders of Cobra, who together hold 73.96 percent of the share capital.

While the concept of the connected cars isn't new, the next two years will see adoption rocket as car manufacturers move to including a mobile connection in an increasing number of new vehicles, according to Machina Research. As a result, drivers and passengers are set to benefit from services such as connected navigation, music streaming, and in-car Wi-Fi, it said.

Like many other operators, Vodafone sees machine-to-machine connections in general as a golden opportunity in a world where its traditional revenue steams are under pressure from Internet-based voice and messaging services such as WhatsApp and Skype.

Earlier this year Vodafone also teamed up with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to provide mobile health services for improving treatment of cardiovascular conditions.

Vodafone isn't alone in going after the connected car business. Competing operators, chip makers, operating system developers and the car makers themselves all want a piece of the latter. For example, Google has launched the Open Automotive Alliance with the intention of putting Android in cars and Apple wants to make it easier to use its iPhones in cars with CarPlay.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com



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