Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Vodafone completes Cobra takeover in connected cars move

Iain Morris
August 14, 2014
UK operator Vodafone has completed its takeover of Italy’s Cobra Automotive Technologies and expects the acquisition to fuel its growth in the burgeoning market for connected car services.

The operator, which announced details of the €115 million takeover in mid-June, has been looking to the connected cars market, together with other M2M opportunities, to offset a slowdown in its traditional telecoms business.

Under the terms of the deal, Vodafone (Newbury, UK) said it would buy more than 95% of Cobra’s share capital immediately and then start proceedings to purchase remaining shares with a view to making Cobra (Varese, Italy) a “100% owned subsidiary”.

The purchase of remaining shares and de-listing of Cobra from the Italian Stock Exchange are expected to occur this week.

So far, Vodafone has mainly functioned as a provider of connectivity services in the connected cars market, and it hopes the takeover of Cobra will help it to become more of an M2M services player.

Cobra has developed telematics software that is able to gather and analyze data about driving behavior and vehicle systems.

Such information is proving invaluable to organizations that maintain vehicle fleets as well as auto insurers and carmakers themselves.

Carmakers, in particular, can mine this data for insight into the performance of their vehicles and use this to make product improvements in future.

According to a report from the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, Cobra counts Audi (Ingolstadt, Germany), Bentley (Crewe, UK), Lamborghini (Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy) and Renault (Boulogne-Billancourt, France) as telematics partners, and has also developed anti-theft and parking-assist services on behalf of Nissan (Yokohama, Japan), Toyota (Aichi, Japan) and Volkswagen (Wolfsburg, Germany).

In its latest statement on the takeover, Vodafone said it would be able to provide automotive and insurance customers with “significant benefits” following the takeover through “joint global scale and capabilities in telematics and managed M2M connectivity”.

The operator also said the Cobra acquisition would strengthen its ability to meet customers’ expectations for connected car services.

“The combination of Vodafone and Cobra will create a new global provider of connected car services,” said Erik Brenneis, Vodafone’s director of M2M. “We plan to invest in the business to offer our automotive and insurance customers a full range of telematics services.”
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