Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), the world's biggest chipmaker, put $100 million into a venture capital fund intended to make cars smarter.
The move is the latest extension of the company's in-house Intel Capital unit, which already has put $10.5 billion into 1,200 companies since 1991.
The $100 million Intel Capital Connected Car Fund is intended to drive the development of technologies to enhance the in-vehicle experience of the future, Intel Capital president Arvind Sodhani said.
Intel has already announced agreements with several Chinese automakers, as well as with Germany's BMW, Japan's Toyota and South Korea's Hyundai and Kia to extend electronics to cars.
Part of the reason why rival Texas Instruments last year acquired National Semiconductor for $6.5 billion was to bolster its market share in Detroit and with global automakers. Contemporary autos are crammed with chips that govern the engines, fuel flow, braking, steering, air bags as well as manage services like global positioning, stereo and TV.
Using its investments, the Santa Clara, Calif, semiconductor giant has seeded new technologies and companies, which it has often acquired. Last year, it set aside $300 million for new ultralightweight, or ultrabook chips; earlier funds were dedicated to health care, clean technology and manufacturing.
Intel has little problem setting aside new investment funds: in the fourth quarter, the company reported holding cash and investments exceeding $14.3 billion.
Intel also said it would set up an automotive electronics center in Karlsruhe, Germany, which will employ 60, to work on innovative technology.
Intel shares fell 2 cents to $26.86 in Thursday trading.