Chinese-based internet company, Alibaba, is entering the car market with a voice-controlled, connected car. The vehicle, which looks much like a normal SUV, can perform many “tricks”. The car currently utilizing the technology is an SAIC Motor’s Roewe RX5.
The platform for the car is the company’s YunOS operating systems, which is already available for use on phones, tablets, and watches. Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, explained:
“We believe in the future that 80 percent of the car’s functionality won’t be related to transportation. The car will become a kind of robot you communicate with on a daily basis.”
Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto are providing similar services throughout the world, but China is the most substantial automotive market on the globe, and neither company has a stronghold there. Alibaba hopes to hold the market share in China and maintain dominance. IHS analyst Michael Liu said:
“Alibaba has wide-ranging Internet-based services and YunOS could be a starting point for their cooperation, especially due to the fact that lots of Google services are blocked in China. Foreign brands are not likely to use the Alibaba system at least in the next several years.”
IHS Automotive Group estimates that the connected car industry will gain rapid growth and be a $4.2 billion market by 2021. Apple’s CarPlay will be used by over 40 automotive companies and Google’s Android Auto is available in 17 brands currently.
Wang Jian, Alibaba’s technology chairman, confirmed that the company is talking with several other automakers as well as working on U.S. certifications. He said in a recent interview:
“This is a car run on the Internet; it’s not a car that has some Internet capabilities. iPhone made the first generation of phone that was part of the Internet, just like the PC. This car is the first generation of cars that are becoming a new member of the Internet.”
The Alibaba YunOS car, SAIC’s Roewe RX5, went on sale in China last week. It is priced incredibly low for an SUV in general and especially with such new technology. It is selling for a starting price of the equivalent of $22,000 USD!