Tag Archives: China
Alibaba just started as an e-commerce business, but expanded to other areas which included launching its own electronic payment system, as well as the “world’s first smartcar.”
Essentially, the Alibaba smartcar features an integrated operating system that identifies the vehicle and allows it to pay for gas, parking and toll fees. It can even recommend drive settings and destinations for each occupant.
The smartcar was introduced by Alibaba last Wednesday. According to a source, will be available in China starting this August with a starting price of RMB148,800 or about $22,300 in current exchange rates.
Based on the Roewe RX5 compact SUV, Alibaba’s smartcar was built by state-owned Chinese automaker SAIC. It is running on Alibaba’s operating system, YunOS. Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma said his company aims to inject “human wisdom” to machines in the coming decades.
Smartphones have become smarter, thanks to operating systems, he added. The same can be done for the smartcars. YunOS can make them an indispensable part of human life in the years to come.
The operating system will allow the smartcar to automatically pay for toll charges, parking and fuel refills. The car itself can also access booking, navigation and entertainment via online. The YunOS will be able to recognize individuals through unique IDs, allowing it to recommend music, air temperature and nearby restaurants based on the occupant’s preference and past trips.
YunOS is open to third-party developers, so expect more apps to be compatible with the smartcar in the coming months. That means more features, functionality, etc.
Alibaba said it hopes the launching of the smartcar will start the development of connected transportation and infrastructure, where everything can be connected through the Internet of Things, or IoT, a concept where everyday objects are connected to a network that allow them to send and receive data.
Google and Apple are currently developing their own versions of a smartcar.
NextEV is getting ready to reveal its first car “somewhere in Europe” before the year ends. The car is reportedly going to be fully-battery-powered, a testament to the Chinese-backed electric vehicle startup company headed by former Ford President for Europe Martin Leach.
The car will rival both the McLaren P1 and Ferrari’s LaFerrari in terms of performance and price. Reports indicated that the hypercar has been developed at the company’s Munich design center for the past two years. Production, however, will start at the new UK branch.
NextEV was a product of an agreement between Chinese Internet billionaire William Li and Leach at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. Leach was Ford’s head of product development before becoming its president for Europe operations. Since that agreement, the startup hired Cisco System’s former chief technology officer, Padmasree Warrior, to run its US operations.
Warrior is heading the software development for the hypercar.
NextEV is gaining ground in concept competitions, too. It won the inaugural Formula E championship for the all-electric, single-seat race cars.
The problem, however, is that NextEV’s market seems to be targeted at the billionaire circle. This would mean ordinary mortals won’t even have the chance to get their hands on the supercar.
But Leach maintained the company’s vision is actually more than just targeting billionaires. It aims to widen its supercar market in the future.
He maintained that the production of the brand’s first hypercar is aimed at attracting and gaining attention, and to show what the company can do technology-wise. Over time, NextEV is expected to showcase more than just supercars.
The first NextEV supercar has been compared to the Tesla model, but Leach said his creation would definitely offer more convenience and accessibility.
We won’t be seeing this hypercar in US soil anytime soon, however. NextEV’s main market would be China, which is under immense pressure to cut down car emissions.
We might have dreamed about it until the day came. It was quite hard to imagine that the luxury SUVs have finally arrived. The three-pointed star marque has once again hinted that it might join the ultra elite group of carmakers with a Mercedes-Maybach SUV.
Merc is the latest in the long line of luxury carmakers that bit into the trend. Bentley has the Bentayga. Rolls Royce has the Project Cullinan. Lamborghini has the Urus by 2018. Aston Martin has a plan based on the DBX concept.
However, a Merc official said that although Mercedes is willing and even able to build a luxury SUV, it cannot be done on the current platform. So, if ever Merc does build a luxury SUV, it would be on the next generation platform.
This makes sense, of course, since Maybach’s release, which was based on a completely different portfolio than the previous version, has been widely successful in places like China.
In China, the automaker sold more of the new long-wheelbase Mercedes-Maybach S-Class in a month than it was able to do so during the old Maybach’s “best year.” This renaissance was the push Merc needed in order to plan ahead again.
An SUV based on this current lineup is a wise decision, especially because the SUV has been slowly catering to Merc drivers as well. Since bringing back the M-Class in 1997, the SUV segment has been successful.
Ola Källenius, a Merc board member, said there is an unbroken trend in SUV because people love the high seats, sporty image and all-around usefulness for outdoor adventures. He believes the SUV trend will continue in years to come.
In Mercedes, 30 to 40 percent of the portfolio are SUVs, which Källenius said all carry the Mercedes imaging, meaning there’s no actual conflict in creating a Maybach SUV.