When Alibaba was started, many laughed-off the aspirations of its founder Jack Ma, to be the biggest e-commerce company in the world. Come 2016, and the China’s Alibaba Group, is one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies, if not the biggest of them all. And going by the rapid pace with which they are expanding and diversifying their operations, the day is not that far!
What does it have to do with us? Well, apparently, Alibaba has ventured into the automobile business, and that too with manufacturing the cars. Alibaba Group has joined hands with the China's largest car manufacturing company, the SAIC Motor Corp., to manufacture the world's first 'Internet Car', a smart vehicle that features its own operating system.
Before you start losing it, let us tell you what is the Internet car? It's essentially a car with a next level, advanced and connected infotainment system, which aims at expanding the internet-of-things (IoT) to the automotive sector. The makers of the car have named the sport utility vehicle as the OS’Car RX5, and we can't help but compare the overall design with the Volvo XC90, especially the interiors.
The much touted operating system is built by the company's YunOS division for the automotive industry. YunOS has also developed an OS for the smart home appliances, including refrigerators, air conditioners and vacuum cleaners, apart from mobile phones and tablets. To use the Alibaba’s own e-commerce ecosystem, the OS will deliver the services like booking and paying for parking spaces, settling fuel bills and even coffee shop ones through Alipay.
The OS will be capable of storing the data of each driver, thanks to a unique "internet ID” differentiating each user. Based on the data recorded from the past trips, it’ll make recommendations for music, air temperature or nearby restaurants. The OS is what will make the OS' Car RX5 a differentiating factor from other smart cars in the market today.
The car will feature navigation and voice control features, three LED screens for interfacing with the OS and 360-degree detachable cameras for recording trips—and selfies. SAIC has provided the OS' Car with the Roewe RX5 body and it will come with a 1.5-litre and a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine option. More details are yet to come.
“Our vision is to enable Internet-connected cars to become the largest open platform capable of incorporating all kind of services, both from YunOS or third-party developers,” said Zhang Chunhui, president of YunOS. “In the future, we hope Internet-connected cars to be a solid foundation for the development of smarter transportation and smarter cities.” he added
The OS’Car RX5 is already under production and the first batch of the SUV will be delivered from August 2016 at a starting price of RMB 148,800 ($22,300 or Rs 15 lakhs). Stay tuned for further updates!