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Tesla announces deal to provide satellite navigation in China

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Tesla China has announced a deal with Chinese mapping company NavInfo that will finally see satellite navigation in the Tesla Model S in China. Normally, the navigation system of the Model S works with Google Maps, which is blocked in China, which forced Tesla to delete the system altogether, leaving Chinese Tesla owners without a factory-installed navigation system.

Under the terms of the deal NavInfo will provide Tesla with maps and updates for the satellite navigation systems of all Model S cars sold in China. NavInfo will also provide software for  Chinese-language voice-control and touch-screen input. Tesla said it needs to make some adjustments to the hardware of the system to make it compatible with NavInfo’s maps. Companies did not announce a timetable but most Chinese media say the first NavInfo maps will be installed in the Model S around Chinese New Year in late February 2015.

NavInfo is one of the largest digital-map making companies in China with a listing on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The company provides maps to various Chinese automakers and to the China-based operations of BMW, Ford, GM, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, and Peugeot Citroen, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

The company was founded in 1997 and is based in Beijing. Main shareholder is the state-owned China Siwei Surveying & Mapping Technology Corporation. A recent investment by Tencent Holdings, China’s largest internet company, values NavInfo at $1.5 billion.

NavInfo owns and co-owns several other mapping companies including MapScape B.V. of the Netherlands. Via two other subsidiaries, NavInfo has ties to the state owned China Aerospace Science an Technology Corporation (CASC), the main contractor for the Chinese space program.

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