SHANGHAI, China, Apr 22 – Chinese technology giants Alibaba and Tencent are promising to build the cars of the future, vehicles linked seamlessly to the Internet and offering shopping and navigation help while on the road.
E-commerce company Alibaba and WeChat messaging app provider Tencent have both announced plans for cars in the past month, along with video streaming platform Letv.
The move could shake up the traditional industry in the world’s largest auto market, but details of their automotive visions are still vague, analysts said.
At the Shanghai auto show this week, the stand of Letv’s partner in the venture, BAIC Motor, displayed the concept for the vehicle, which has two front seats with a steering wheel and a futuristic screen control panel.
“In the mobile Internet era, the auto industry is facing a huge revolution,” Letv CEO Jia Yueting said on his microblog. “The Chinese auto industry can subvert traditional European, American, Japanese and Korean giants.”
A promotional film at the auto show said the Letv car would have features such as gesture recognition, automatic parking and a fingerprint recognition locking device.
“At the moment we haven’t seen the products, this is all the sort of concept stage,” Namrita Chow, principal analyst for IHS Automotive, told AFP.
In the United States, search engine Google has already made news with its plans for a “self-driving car”, and Apple is reportedly planning to develop an electric car.
Alibaba, whose $25 billion US-listing last year was the world’s largest, plans an “Internet car” that would use technology to provide a better driving experience including e-commerce, digital entertainment, map and communications services.