By Eric Auchard
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Dutch map-making company TomTom NV is introducing a live service to help drivers locate and pay for electric car-battery charging stations, an application built off its core automotive navigation business.
At a news conference at the Frankfurt auto show on Tuesday, the company unveiled its TomTom EV Service, which it plans to license to auto makers to build into upcoming navigation systems for electric vehicles starting in Europe and North America.
The service connects TomTom car navigation systems to information on the availability of charging points from market leaders in vehicle recharging networks. Data include opening hours, payment methods and plug types and are updated continuously throughout a driver's journey, it said.
The TomTom EV service will initially launch in Europe, with expansion into North America planned for early next year. At that point, TomTom said its EV Service will list 35,000-plus charging stations globally.
The company did not disclose its current partners, but a TomTom demonstration system suggests it is working with German recharging network Hubject, which has previously said it offers up to 25,000 charging stations across Europe.
Hubject is backed by Germany's top three carmakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> as well as the country's major electric utilities and engineering groups. (http://reut.rs/2f2lwps). It aims to standardize how drivers locate and pay for recharging.
In addition, German luxury auto maker Daimler has chosen to incorporate TomTom maps into its car navigation systems in Mercedes A, C, B and E-class vehicles it offers in North America, TomTom said.
It also said it is now offering high-resolution maps to automotive partners covering 360,000 kilometers of highways and roads across Europe and North America for future testing of their autonomous driving projects.
(Reporting By Eric Auchard and Christoph Steitz; Editing by Maria Sheahan)