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Samsung in talks with BMW, Volkswagen to supply telematics

March 5, 2014 - 20:19 By Shin Ji-hye
A Samsung Electronics Co. corporate flag, left, and the South Korean national flag fly outside the company's Seocho office building in Seoul. (Bloomberg)
Samsung Electronics has been in low-key talks on providing its Drive Link in-car smartphone application to German automakers including BMW and Volkswagen, industry sources said Wednesday.

“Samsung is negotiating with the two companies to supply its application to fit into their design concepts such as user interface,” a source familiar with the matter told The Korea Herald.

The Korean tech giant is expected to unveil its Drive Link system on the Galaxy S5 this year. It would be an upgrade from the application featured on the Galaxy S3 introduced in 2012, according to the sources.

It is also developing the application with a voice user interface.

“It is true that we are pushing ahead with the supply deal with several global automakers. However, we cannot name specific companies,” said Lee Won-ho, a Samsung Electronics spokesperson.

The two global automobile makers have already formed a partnership with Samsung.

Samsung SDI has supplied its battery to both of their electric vehicles.

Samsung Electronics’ vice chairman Lee Jae-yong met with BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer in February and Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn in May 2012.

“Samsung is said to be in talks with most global automakers both at home and abroad, as well as BMW and Volkswagen. As Google and Apple have jumped into the smart car markets, Samsung’s interest in the area will expand further down the road,” said Yoo Jin-ho, a research analyst at Woori Investment & Securities.

In February, Samsung provided the Drive Link application for India’s largest automobile company Tata Motors.

Drive Link is a smartphone application that can connect to a vehicle’s navigation screen to improve the driving experience.

It displays large icons for music, navigation, phone calls or a daily schedule, which are frequently used while driving.

It also allows the text-to-speech function to convert written text into spoken words.

As the growth of television and smartphone markets slows in advanced economies, Samsung Electronics is currently eyeing the global smart car markets as a new revenue source, sources said.

“Vehicle companies want to connect smartphones with automotive core systems,” said Hong Won-pyo, head of Samsung Electronics’ Media Solution Center, at the opening speech of the Korea Electronics Show last October.

“With the combination of Samsung Electronics smartphones and the mirror link system, drivers can use core applications while driving,” he said.

By Shin Ji-hye (