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Tencent wants to be foreign automakers’ go-to company for tech in China’s electric car market

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BMW’s iX electric SUV in China was the first global car brand to include the automobile version of Tencent’s WeChat messaging app, according to the Chinese tech company.

Tencent

BEIJING — Chinese internet giant Tencent wants to sell technology which the company says will help foreign automakers that want to sell cars in China’s massive electric vehicle market.

BMW and some U.S. automakers are already working with Tencent, Liu Shuquan, vice president of Tencent Intelligent Mobility, which is part of Tencent’s cloud business. Speaking to CNBC on Friday, he declined to specify which American carmakers it’s working with.

In a move aimed at helping boost its international strategy, Liu’s team launched a new cloud computing product for automakers called the “Tencent Intelligent Automobile Cloud” on Friday.

The all-in-one cloud product — also available for domestic automakers — can cover all technological aspects of an electric car, the company claimed. Those features range from storing data in a way optimized for training autonomous driving systems, to giving drivers access to Tencent’s social media and map apps.

The user interface may be a selling point for China’s drivers considering how Tencent dominates an array of the top online entertainment apps in China.

The company has played the role of Facebook in China with its ubiquitous WeChat messaging, payments and social media app — something tech rivals Baidu and Alibaba have yet to come close to.

In entertainment, Tencent has other apps as well: QQ Music, one of the two main Spotify-like apps in China; Tencent Video, which offers on-demand streaming content including reality shows and animated series; as well as popular mobile games like Honor of Kings.

Tencent Maps is the third most-popular navigation app in Apple’s App store in China — the top two belong to its key rivals Alibaba and Baidu.

All cars letting passengers or drivers access Tencent apps from the vehicle’s platforms need to have an agreement with Tencent, Liu said.

Those app-level partnerships started in 2018, around the same time Tencent Cloud began working with automakers for autonomous driving services, the company said.

Adding more self-driving tech

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Source: CNBC