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September 17, 2009

JAPAN: Sanyo signs TomTom joint venture

Consumer and industrial electronics maker Sanyo Electric is moving into the integrated vehicle navigation business in Europe and North America, having agreed on cooperation with portable navigator maker TomTom.

Consumer and industrial electronics maker Sanyo Electric is moving into the integrated vehicle navigation business in Europe and North America, having agreed on cooperation with portable navigator maker TomTom.

Sanyo said both companies were talking with carmakers and developing new models for release by the end of 2010.

Though built-in car navigation systems are common in Japan, portable navigation devices (PNDs) are more popular elsewhere, particularly in Europe and North America – about 40m were sold worldwide in 2008 alone. Integrated navigators, often combined with audio, camera, climate control, self-parking and Bluetooth mobile phone systems are limited mostly to luxury cars. Some 10m were sold globally in 2008, 4m in Japan.

TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn said Sanyo would offer multimedia systems to automakers. “This all-in-one multimedia solution will combine Sanyo’s audio video ‘infotainment’ experience with [our] navigation technology.”

He added the move would extend the Dutch firm’s product line and take it into new market segments in the US and Europe.

TomTom has previously developed an integrated audio system and removable navigator for a luxury version of Toyota Motor Europe’s entry-level Yaris line and provides a low-cost Carminat-brand system for low-cost Renault models, which is currently being heavily promoted on British TV. An early pioneer of portable navigators, TomTom has subsequently faced increasing competition from rivals such as Garmin and Pioneer, forcing retail prices down across the sector.

Pioneer makes integrated units for Honda and earlier this year asked the automaker for a capital boost.

Sanyo president Nobuaki Matsuoka said: “We will [work with TomTom] to develop, produce and supply car manufacturers with built-in car navigation systems which can take on global market competition.”

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