Nokia Races in Second Gear to Catch Google's Driverless Cars

NEW YORK (TheStreet) --  Nokia (NOK), newly out of the smartphone business, has turned its attention to "smart" cars.

Attempting to rebrand itself as a well-rounded, innovative technology company similar to Google (GOOG) or one of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's companies, Nokia said it plans to spend $100 million financing companies that develop driverless car technologies.

The investments will be carried out by Nokia Growth Partners, Nokia's venture-capital arm, which manages about $700 million.

"We're seeing innovation that's happening across the auto ecosystem through the combination of mobility and the Internet," Paul Asel, a partner at the Nokia venture-capital arm, told Bloomberg. "The car is really becoming a platform like when the mobile handset became a smartphone and all the apps and services developed around that."

The transition into smartcar technology comes as Nokia tries to rebuild itself after selling its mobile-phone unit to Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) for about $7.5 billion in April.

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