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Alibaba teams up with FAW to build connected cars

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. on Jan. 9 announced a strategic partnership with FAW Car Co. Ltd. in which the Chinese e-commerce company will develop connected vehicles with the state-owned carmaker.

The collaboration will see Alibaba's open mobility platform Banma Network Technology, known as Banma, to be used in the connected vehicles' operating system, Alibaba said in a statement. The technology and resources will be particularly used by the Jilin-based carmaker to design smart cockpit solutions for its new lineup.

Alibaba added that the partnership extends beyond car designs as FAW will leverage on its ecosystem resources including Alibaba Cloud to establish its digital infrastructure. FAW agreed to use Alibaba's data intelligence technology to improve its product research and development, marketing, and customer services.

According to China Daily, both Alibaba and FAW have been part of a ride-hailing venture T3 launched in July 2019 by a number of Chinese automakers, Tencent Holdings Ltd. and retailer Co. Ltd. to challenge Didi Chuxing Technology Co. Ltd.

Alibaba in June 2019 said it is partnering with Audi AG, Renault SA and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. to install its smart speaker Tmall Genie Auto into the cars to help with navigation, besides online shopping and ordering food delivery while on the road. The Hangzhou-based company also backs Chinese electric car startup Xpeng Motors.

Its rival Tencent had a foot in the game much earlier. According to Yicai Global, Tencent launched a connected electric car prototype with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd. in 2017. The Chinese internet company has been an investor in electric-car makers including Tesla Inc. and Chinese startups NIO Ltd. and WM Motor.