Alibaba Wants a Slice of the Rising Chinese Electronic Vehicle Market
The ties between Alibaba and SAIC can be traced back to 2015, when a $160 million investment in internet-connected cars was jointly announced. The partners went on to form a joint venture named Banma (or ‘Zebra’) and since then Alibaba has developed a variety of auto solutions for the Banma platform to enable anything from voice-activated navigation to coffee voice ordering, which is of course, connected to the e-wallet of Alipay.
Alibaba is definitely not the exclusive supplier of SAIC, as it has also partnered closely over the years with the likes of BMW and Audi.
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Alibaba will continue to be the “technology solution provider” for SAIC’s new EV brand, an Alibaba spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Huawei is the other tech giant making major moves in the automotive industry. The telecommunications equipment and smartphone manufacturer just this week revealed that it would merge its smart car unit into its consumer business division, which had previously concentrated on handsets. Richard Yu, known as the man who helped grow Huawei from an underdog in the mobile industry to a leading global player, will continue to direct the enlarged community.
The ambition of Huawei in cars is not to produce cars, but to concentrate on developing ICT [information and communication technology] to assist car manufacturers in producing cars,” the company asserts in the statement, addressing rumors that it wants to invade the turf of conventional carmakers.
Because U.S. sanctions hobbled its supply chain, Huawei’s phone business has taken a hit. It recently sold its budget phone brand, Honor, in the expectation that the Huawei-independent spin-off will be free of trade curbs.
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