The French car manufacturer Renault has bought a 40% stake in Challenges Group, the publisher of the weekly economics magazine Challenges and four monthly science and history journals.
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, reports Bloomberg,
plans to stretch the carmaker’s suite of products to entertaining passengers in future driverless vehicles. (That means) new content specially designed for autonomous vehicles.
After smartphones, which opened new channels via digital kiosks, the automotive sector also becomes a tool to share news, with new types of content.
“On-board entertainment” is the new buzzword in car manufacturing circles, and “traditional” operators in the field like Renault are acutely aware they are competing with tech-first giants like Apple and Uber.
Apple’s driverless cars, when they finally arrive, will of course come replete with Apple’s content, and while Apple doesn’t seem too bothered about expanding its iBooks store right now, there’s no reason why iBooks shouldn’t be part of the Apple entertainment package that will come with every Apple car.
Apple demonstrated its driverless cars earlier this month. Back in June Apple CEO Tim Cooke described Apple’s driverless car venture as “the mother of all AI projects.”
While Renault singles out driverless cars, Renault clearly isn’t buying 40% of Challenges just to provide new content for its yet-to-be-produced cars.
As Bloomberg notes, lots of media ventures in France are owned by corporations with no other publishing connection.
LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods maker controlled by Bernard Arnault, owns French business daily Les Echos, while Le Figaro newspaper is owned by defense company Groupe Dassault. Iliad-founder Xavier Niel and Lazard’s Matthieu Pigasse jointly own Le Monde and L’Obs.
Renault’s Ghosn says French and European drivers spend an average two hours a day behind the wheel. That’s an extra two hours a day of content-consumption time that will be freed up as driverless cars become an everyday reality.
Challenges has a limited range of publications with niche appeal, that isn’t going to keep drivers or passengers occupied for long, yet Ghosn has singled out new content as a feature of the 40% stake option.
I’m wondering where Renault hopes to go next with this.