Chinese Giant Alibaba Plans to Launch a Connected Car by 2016

If you’re accustomed to shopping on eBay or Amazon then you probably heard of Alibaba at least once. The Chinese company is possibly the biggest seller of goods online in the eastern part of Asia and it’s also one of the most profitable, showing a market value of $231 billion last September. What does this have to do with cars, though?
Alibaba 1 photo
Well, it seems like the company wants to expand to new segments and car making somehow seemed approachable. According to German publication KFZ, Alibaba teamed up with Chinese car maker SAIC and are trying to come up with a sort of connected car by the end of 2016.

In this endeavor, both companies have set up separated development funds and are looking at a means to make the most of the deal. The end product would be capable of communicating to other cars on the road (presumably fitted with the same kind of technology) via cloud storage.

Internet connectivity for cars has been around for quite some time now and it wouldn’t be something new. However, the announcement comes as a response to a recent report from Baidu (China's own version of Google) that claims the IT company is looking to also create a self-driving car, somewhat like their American counterparts.

A Chinese alternative

This is just one other IT giant that enters the car scene. For quite some time now Google has been working on a completely autonomous car that is rumored to be close to production. On top of that Apple has recently hinted at a similar development even though no additional info has been provided.

In the meantime, Alibaba is the biggest online trading platform in China, accounting for 80 percent of all commerce done in the communist country, online. Its founder, Jack Ma is one of the richest men in Asia and his company definitely has the funds to develop a new car.

The question that lingers in my mind though is: will it be completely autonomous or not? And if it turns out it won’t be autonomous, could it possibly be just another electric vehicle?

That would certainly be welcome, especially since China is currently facing air pollution like never before and such a model would be favored by government regulations. However, they might not have the technology needed to make these EVs as eco-friendly as possible and that might be the Achilles’ heel in this entire story.


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