China and the “internet of cars”

From Zachs Investment Management:

The Internet of Vehicles (IoV) just might be the next milestone in the tech zeitgeist, with designs to integrate vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-roads, vehicle-to-human and vehicle-to-sensor mobile interactions. The internet-based technology is expected to equip vehicle users with better and easier-to-use navigation, road safety and location sharing tools along with other functionalities of their smartphones including entertainment apps, web browsing and (hands free) calls. Sounds like something that should be coming from Silicon Valley, but in actuality it is China that could be emerging as one of the biggest forces at its forefront.

Currently ranking as the largest market for automobiles—with 24.6 million units sold in 2015—along with having the highest number of internet users in the world, China is ripe for securing a hefty slice of the IoV revolution. And it’s already well underway.

Already, several Chinese internet/technology companies have embarked on clinching deals with the biggest automobile firms in the world. Chinese internet behemoth Baidu has managed to get automakers including Hyundai, BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Audi and Volkswagen to install its ‘CarLife’ in their units sold in China. The search engine company also teamed up with an insurer for a usage-based auto insurance project.

In 2014, Alibaba purchased Chinese interactive mapping and navigation firm Autonavi for $1.5 billion, and is looking forward to joining hands with Chinese automaker SAIC. Also, Audi has revealed plans of incorporating Chinese internet company Tencent’s WeChat app into its vehicles to allow location sharing. French automobile maker PSA Peugeot-Citroen will reportedly collaborate with Alibaba for wi-fi features in their cars sold in China, and is also planning to install apps to detect gas usage and vehicle location.

The “connected vehicle” market also spells ample opportunity for mobile service providers. Connectivity features in cars could require more data usage and faster internet speed—meaning more revenue-earning avenues would be available for internet/cellular service providers. To cash-in on this promising market, China Mobile and Deutsche Telecom partnered in October 2014 to provide 4G-based vehicle information services to connected drivers.

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