Internet Car

roewe-rx5Alibaba and SAIC have jointly launched an ‘Internet Car’ in China, Alibaba says. The term internet car refers to the Internet of Things (IoT) where everything is connected; your smartphone with your car, your car with your home, and your home with your phone.

Alibaba has nothing to do with the actual car. It was designed and developed by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). It is marketed under SAIC’s Roewe brand and sold via Roewe’s existing dealer network.

Alibaba’s share is the operating system for the vehicle’s infotainment system. The operating system is called YunOS for Car. It is based on the YunOS smartphone operating system. Alibaba wants to use various new YunOS variants to power a wide range of devices to create their Internet of Things. The devices include televisions, home-air conditioning systems, refrigerators, microwave ovens, game consoles, smart watches, and even robotic vacuum cleaners.

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Alibaba’s suite of services extend to things like personal greetings and restoring individual settings as a driver approaches the vehicle. More than that though, parking, gas stations, and even restaurants can be located using the car’s connected services and using paid for using Alibaba’s Alipay service.

The idea is to create a simpler, more streamlined experience for automobile users, with the car gathering data on how it is used and the things its drivers do in a regular basis; then making suggestions based on prior learning.

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The Roewe RX5 is a compact SUV. Price ranges from 99,800 to 186,800 yuan ($15,000 – 28,000), positioning the RX5 in the most competitive SUV segment of the hyper competitive Chinese market.

Design is fairly typical for the segment; conservative with a sporty touch. The RX5 can be had with a 170 horsepower 1.5 turbo or a 220 horsepower 2.0 turbo. A plug-in hybrid version will join the lineup in August. The Roewe RX5 is and will be only available in China.

SAIC is one of China’s largest automakers via its joint ventures with General Motors and with Volkswagen. Its own Roewe and MG brands are tiny in comparison. Roewe was founded in 2006 on the ruins of British car maker MG Rover.

Without an official presence in the US, the Roewe RX5 is unlikely to be offered here any time in the near future. But with automakers everywhere developing new car connectivity technologies, expect similar features to make their way into mainstream cars sooner rather than later.