Chinese social networking giant Tencent unveiled a “basic” version of WeChat for vehicles Monday.
The drivers’ version of the popular phone and desktop chat app allows users to make calls as well as receive and dictate messages via a button embedded in the steering wheel of a specially-designed car built in partnership with Changan Automobile.
The car app, demonstrated at a smart-technology expo in Chongqing, is still rudimentary but can already meet drivers’ “necessary communication needs,’ Tencent executive Zhong Xiangping said.
Tencent’s cooperation with Changan started a year ago, when the two companies set up an Internet-of-Things joint venture. A spokesperson of the joint venture told Caixin it is now in “substantial” cooperation with five car brands, without offering details.
Fellow internet giants Baidu and Alibaba have also made active forays into the smart vehicle market, with Alibaba forming a smart-car joint venture with SAIC Motor.
Tencent founder and CEO Pony Ma said in a keynote speech at the Chongqing event that Tencent would eventually open up some of its internal source code to boost collaboration between information-service companies and other industries.
Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (firstname.lastname@example.org)