Maybe Nokia's Here maps service won't be sold off to Facebook, Apple, or another Silicon Valley mainstay after all; it could be headed for Germany. The Wall Street Journal reports that the big three German automakers have come together in a rare joint effort to purchase Nokia's mapping product. BMW AG, Audi AG, and Mercedes-Benz (along with China's Baidu) are in "advanced" talks with Nokia, with the final price still undecided. Under the arrangement being considered, the Journal says car makers would collectively own a majority in Here, with Baidu picking up a minority stake. Nokia would also hold onto a small piece of ownership. Baidu would be limited to offering Here's services only in China.
The rare partnership between auto rivals shows how determined these companies are to have a solution for car navigation that isn't Google Maps or another service that they don't have full control over. For years, consumers have complained about the lackluster built-in navigation apps that come included with expensive automobiles; they often pale in comparison to Google Maps or even Apple Maps.
Automakers have budged some, enabling support for tacked on experiences like CarPlay and Android Auto. But the bid for Nokia's Here unit suggests they don't intend to outsource the default maps experience to Silicon Valley anytime soon. They're also looking to the future; the big three "plan to invest further in the service to transform it into the eyes and ears of self-driven cars," according to the Journal.