Delphi takes stake in companies to profit from data in connected cars

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Car parts supplier and integrator Delphi Automotive on Thursday announced investments and partnerships in three privately held companies to help carmakers profit from the increasing amount of data produced by the growing number of vehicles connected to the internet.

As cars are equipped with new capabilities, from staying in lanes to driving themselves, they are using and producing vast amounts of information, including where they drive. Delphi said automakers need a single strategy for handling the data as cars become more complex.

Delphi’s chief technology officer, Glen DeVos, told reporters in a briefing that Delphi wanted to partner with data-related companies in three key areas: inside the car itself; as data moves from the car to the cloud; and organizing that data in the cloud so it can be used to generate revenue.

Delphi said it took minority investments in Israeli companies Otonomo, a connected car services company, and Valens, a chip maker. It also entered into a strategic partnership with Germany’s Rosenberger, which makes ethernet connectors.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The latest investments complement Delphi’s purchase earlier this year of Movimento, which provides over-the-air software updates and data management. In 2015, Delphi bought Control-Tec, a data analytics company.

Otonomo’s platform takes data generated by connected cars, strips it of personal identifying information and lets carmakers offer the data for sale on a marketplace accessed by third-party suppliers.

“They’re a data broker, they’re providing enabling technologies allowing the (automaker) to market their data across a wide array of services and vendors,” said DeVos, such as retailers, fleet transport services, or vehicle repair services like tow trucks.

Drivers who did not want to share their data could opt out, DeVos said.

Detroit automaker General Motors Co has been working on similar technology through a partnership with International Business Machines Corp’s Watson artificial intelligence software.

Using its Onstar system, GM’s product allows third-party marketers to deliver targeted offers, such as nearby coffee shops, reminders about shopping-list items, or paying for fuel from the car dashboard.

Delphi said Valens’ technology would help deal with the increased bandwidth and wiring required for cars with infotainment, such as navigation systems and entertainment, and advanced driver assistance systems like collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control.

The Rosenberger partnership will help in transferring greater amounts of data at faster rates, Delphi said, given the company’s expertise in automotive radio frequency connection systems.

Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Leslie Adler