Ericsson, Telia, Volvo form WirelessCar JV

Three of Sweden's largest corporations have joined forces to develop wireless products and services for vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators worldwide.

L.M. Ericsson Telephone, Telia AB and Volvo on Monday announced the formation of the new joint venture, to be called WirelessCar Corp. It will initially be owned equally by the three partners, although they plan to invite others to join the venture, the companies said in a statement.

WirelessCar will be located in Gothenburg, Sweden, and will develop and market wireless products and mobile e-services aimed at vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators worldwide, the companies said. For example, it will offer products and services to wirelessly connect vehicles to mobile e-services, including accessing information from the Internet, roadside and emergency assistance, vehicle software management and remote diagnostics, the companies said.

That three Swedish companies can get together to provide a complete range of wireless products and services is evidence that Sweden is at the forefront of mobile technology, said Jan Hellåker, president of WirelessCar.

"It shows that we are as good as we say we are," said Hellåker, who said he has worked at Volvo for the past 14 years and before that at Ericsson for eight years.

Hellåker and other executives are scheduled to discuss the venture at a press conference yesterday at the Geneva Motor Show.

Initially, WirelessCar will develop services based on mobile technology already available, which in most cases will mean the text-based SMS (short message service) technology that is supported by most of the world's GSM (global system for mobile communications) operators, Hellåker said.

The company will also be able to provide wireless Internet products and services based on WAP (wireless application protocol).

"If a manufacturer wants to put a WAP browser in their vehicle then we can provide that as well," said Hellåker.

WirelessCar is also very interested in developing products and services for the packet-switched GPRS (general packet radio service) technology, which many GSM operators are expected to roll out later this year, although initial efforts will be focused on existing technologies such as SMS, he added.

The partners will not disclose financial details of the venture, Hellåker said.

Mobile phone and telecommunications equipment vendor Ericsson is Sweden's largest exporter, while Telia is the Scandinavian country's largest telecommunications carrier. Volvo, which last year sold its personal car business to Ford Motor, is a major maker of trucks, buses and construction equipment.

The formation of the joint venture is also subject to regulatory approval by the European Commission, the companies said.

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