* Media purchase to prepare for self-driving car era
* Renault says foray into magazines is a world first
* Renault aims to put hands-off cars on road by 2021 (updates throughout)
PARIS, Dec 13 (Reuters) - French carmaker Renault has bought a stake in a glossy magazine publishing group, its first foray into media, as it prepares to keep travellers occupied in the era of driverless cars.
Renault billed its move into media as the first among the world’s automobile manufacturers, who are carrying out advanced testing of self-driving cars in France and other countries.
“This project is totally in line with Renault’s strategy, which aims to offer new, high-quality connected services and to improve the customer experience,” Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn said in a statement on Wednesday.
Renault, which is conducting trials of semi-autonomous cars and plans to put totally self-driving vehicles on the road as soon as 2021, says entertainment will become a bigger chunk of business as drivers switch from speedometers and steering wheels to pastimes such as in-car entertainment and dining.
“When going from place to place – whether alone or with family or friends – we listen, look, and pay attention (to) the world around us,” Ghosn said.
“This is already true of travel in today’s cars, and will be even more true in the autonomous, and driverless car of tomorrow,” he added.
Renault did not disclose how much it is paying for the 40 percent stake in the group which produces five publications including Challenges, an equivalent of the Fortune business magazine, as well as Historia and Sciences & Avenir.
“This project will enable millions of drivers and their passengers to have completely free access to a choice of high-quality information and content,” Renault said. (Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Laurence Frost; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Alexander Smith)