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Wireless Technologies

Alibaba the next tech giant to bring a car to market

Every tech company and their dog are working on cars, including Jack Ma’s Alibaba.

The Chinese giant this week announced a partnership with major local manufacturer SAIC Motor Corp to deliver the OS’Car RX5, a new “internet car” packed to the gills with internet services.

The car, due to ship next month and priced at $22,300, will have Alibaba’s own eCommerce platform and Alipay built in, allowing it to book and pay for parking spaces, gas stations, and coffee shops. The company said it will use consumer data to tailor features to each individual drive, including recommendations for music, air temperature or nearby restaurants based on past trips.

 “Smart operating systems become the second engine of cars, while data is the new fuel,” said Dr. Wang Jian, chairman of Alibaba’s Technology Steering Committee, in a statement.

The company is adopting an open approach and promises that other companies will be able to deliver their own services through the internet car’s YunOS for Car operating system. The car is of Alibaba’s big Internet of Things push, and

“You'll quickly see driverless car technology resulting from this platform,” Chief Technology Officer Wang Jian told Reuters.

Traditional automakers are currently scrambling to adapt to a new landscape. Technology companies have identified the car as a vast untapped resource they want to monetize, while services such as Uber and a future filled with driverless cars threaten ownership models.

Some are allowing the likes of Android Auto, CarPlay, or even Blackberry’s QNX to take over the dashboard, while others are steaming ahead with their own services play.  At the same time, those technology companies are also working on vehicles of their own.

Given the scale of Alibaba’s operations in China, the company could easily monopolise the market there while the US, European, and even Japanese companies scramble around to find a model that works.

The car also comes with cameras for recording trips and taking selfies. We’re assuming the Alibaba doesn’t condone such snaps being taken while driving.

Also read:

Connected Cars World: Auto makers still adapting to a changing market

London Tech Week: Driverless cars will change everything

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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