Authored by Sailesh Mohan and Arunprasad Nandakumar
Agreement reflects rising importance of data-driven business models and comprehensive mobility services
Manufacturers and suppliers in the automobile industry are adapting to evolving data-driven business models through investments or acquisitions that instantly strengthen their data related capabilities. This is also part of larger strategic initiatives where companies are looking to reposition themselves as “mobility service providers” and break away from traditional labels of being solely auto manufacturers or tier 1 suppliers. Some of these traditional automakers and suppliers have identified telematics as the go-to solution to address these two major imperatives.
In the wake of this trend, Bridgestone NV, a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation in EMEA, has entered into an agreement with TomTom to acquire TomTom NV’s fleet telematics business–TomTom Telematics—for a whopping €910 million (approximately $ 1 billion). This agreement brings together one of the world’s leading tyre manufacturers with the number one fleet telematics provider in Europe to develop a dominant data analytics platform for connected services. The transaction enables Bridgestone to strengthen its digital mobility business; and TomTom to focus on its core mapping business.
“Smart move towards the development of an intelligent digital service orientated business for Bridgestone. CASE (Connectivity, Autonomous, Service, Electric) is redefining tomorrow’s automotive ecosystem, and we can expect many such moves across the industry to capture a greater share in the future value creation model” said Franck Leveque, Partner at Frost & Sullivan
TomTom and Bridgestone to Benefit from Mutual Synergies
This strategic acquisition will help Bridgestone cross-sell its tyres and existing digital solutions, including Bridgestone Connect, Tirematics, Fleetpulse and Mobox, to TomTom’s 50,000 customers comprising commercial fleets and fleet leasing companies. Apart from seeing this as an additional form of revenue, Bridgestone would be more interested in gaining access to millions of data points, such as road conditions and driving patterns, from TomTom Telematics’ expanding installed base of 860,000 vehicles. These data points will help make its tyre maintenance and driver experience solutions more robust and reliable.
In turn, Bridgestone’s brand image, large customer base, and strong global OEM tie-ups will help accelerate growth in TomTom’s telematics business at a much faster pace than current y-o-y growth rates. This move will also enable TomTom Telematics to consolidate its number one position in the fast growing European telematics market.
This acquisition provides a solid platform from which Bridgestone can launch its bid to overtake other tyre manufacturers and become the number one telematics provider in terms of installed base. It will be up against Michelin, Continental, Pirelli and Goodyear who are already strong contenders for the No.1 slot with their respective acquisitions in different regions. In term of solutions, Bridgestone will be matching the likes of Michelin and Continental with a comprehensive Driver Management, Vehicle Management, and Safety & Compliance services portfolio. However, this acquisition will give them an edge with WEBFLEET’s open and scalable platform, a feature which its competitors lack
TomTom Looks to the Future
For TomTom, the decision to part ways with its telematics business indicates a change in priorities, paving the way for the company to enhance its investment in the navigation business and, importantly, a chance to move more towards a software centric service platform.
Currently, while the traditional navigation platform that TomTom supplies to a number of major OEMs in the automotive business is its main product, the traditional navigation business itself is going through a period of transformation with the proliferation of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving (AD) solutions.
TomTom has a diverse portfolio of ADAS and AD focused products, the cornerstone of which are its HD base maps that are targeted at AD applications for L3 and higher. All major OEMs working on L3 and L4 automation will require a third validation layer of dynamic data beyond perception and vision sensors along the geographic course of operation. With coverage of 380,000 kms across EU, NA and Japan, TomTom is the second largest HD map supplier, positioning it as a key vendor to a market that is estimated to have over 16 million units by 2030. TomTom is working on addressing coverage and richness of latency, two key indices that are critical to the success of HD Mapping solutions.
TomTom is set to further improve the service value of its HD maps by adding sensor fusion and AI software stack capability gained from its acquisition of Autonomus. It is likely to position this service as a subscription service to smaller mobility service providers to enable automation on their fleet, rather than developing proprietary localisation and mapping solutions for each application.
Beyond organically enhancing its portfolio with products like RoadDNA, TomTom’s mapping division is also strategically expanding the company’s global ecosystem with key product lines that add value to HD Mapping base layers. For example, Bosch and TomTom are now co-developing a localisation solution using the former’s Radar Road Signature map and the latter’s static HD map layer. Among the advantages of this product are localisation capabilities in any driving condition, data transmission size of five kilobytes per kilometre, and non-reliance on a camera. Similarly, Baidu, which has developed proprietary autonomous driving platforms, uses TomTom’s HD Mapping solutions and AutoStream across its entire platform suite, allowing it to be accessed by all mobility players that register onto the Apollo platform. The extension of this relationship with Baidu has come on the back of the current contract for navigation services provided by TomTom. Similar partnerships with Microsoft, Uber and Qualcomm are all intended to add unique value layers to the HD Mapping base layer, thereby enabling TomTom to increase the value of its solution within the AD software stack ecosystem.
The market for ADAS and AD is projected to expand in the next decade. TomTom is preparing for this imminent market disruption by reorganising its product portfolio, and repositioning itself as a service centric software supplier with strategic licensing and subscription business models that target a wide array of possible clients, ranging from small startups to large vehicle manufacturers. To further strengthen its proposition, TomTom has also identified likeminded technology leaders poised to excel in AD. The company is focused on creating an ecosystem of vendors with whom it can cross-collaborate in developing strategic, yet optimal, products and services that will drive growth in a market expected to be valued at over $200 billion by 2030. However, the looming prospect of vertical integration by other mapping vendors and the emergence of new HD Mapping base suppliers will make the next few years critical for TomTom; it will need to further consolidate its ecosystem of partners and expand its network of clients across multiple geographies.