FRANKFURT -- BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz launched an alliance with mobile telecoms network equipment firms Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm to accelerate development of the infrastructure needed for self-driving cars.
The pact is another example of Germany's premium carmakers collaborating to build technology expertise necessary to take on new rivals like Uber and Google which are also working on autonomous driving technology.
The new alliance, branded the 5G Automotive Association, will "develop, test and promote communications solutions, support standardization and accelerate commercial availability and global market penetration," the founders said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Alexander Dobrindt, Germany's infrastructure minister, was quoted in a report from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as saying the country wants to become the first to set up a comprehensive 5G mobile network.
The new 5G service is said to be 10 times faster than the current 4G service.
A five-point strategy paper prepared by the ministry calls for all main transportation arteries and at least the 20 largest German cities to be fitted with 5G networks by 2025, with key decisions to be made by 2018.
One of the aims of 5G, the technology standards for the next generation of much faster and more reliable mobile telecoms networks, is to enable a wide variety of devices to connect up and operate via the Internet - the "Internet of Things."
Network equipment providers such as Ericsson and Nokia have said the 5G technology currently in development could be available for use as early as next year but mass-market upgrades to mobile networks are not expected until sometime around 2020.
A spokesman for the newly formed partnership said there were talks with several network operators to join the association, declining to give any names.
Last year BMW, Mercedes and Audi, joined forces to buy digital map maker Here for 2.8 billion euros ($3.15 billion) from Nokia and this week will introduce a service that allows drivers to see for themselves what road conditions are like miles ahead using live data contributed by other vehicles.