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Audi, Renault and Honda partner with Alibaba on AI and voice technology


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

June 11, 2019 | 5 min read

Audi, Renault and Honda have announced a partnership with Alibaba A.I. Labs, an AI research division of Alibaba Group, around driving automation and smart mobility in its cars.

Tmall Genie

Audi, Renault and Honda partner with Alibaba on AI and voice technology

The agreement, announced at CES in Shanghai this week, will see the car brands adding Tmall Genie Auto technology into its cars, so that people can use voice technology to complete tasks while driving.

H.W. Vassen, senior director of digitalization and NEV development at Audi China, said: “We aim to extend in-car voice assistant services according to the demands and needs of our Chinese customers. To do so, one of our next steps is to intensify the cooperation with Alibaba Tmall Genie.”

Cars will soon allow drivers to check on nearby restaurants or attractions, play Children’s books, check information or buy from Alibaba’s e-commerce sites, by using voice controls. The announcement also said that the technology would allow users to pair up the system with home controls so that people can control smart devices at home while traveling.

Miffy Chen, general manager at Alibaba A.I. Labs, said: “By providing AI technologies, including speech-recognition and Natural Language Processing, Tmall Genie Auto enables car users to access an extensive in-car infotainment portfolio by tapping into Alibaba’s rich content and service ecosystem. We are thrilled to partner with global distinguished auto brands such as Audi, Renault and Honda. Together, we can greatly enhance our in-car services and make the driving experience more intelligent and interconnected.”

Renault announced its Renault City K-ZE Tmall Genie Edition, an electric car designed for use in urban settings. The car will feature the Tmall Genie cat logo and will be on sale later this year.

Renault Alibaba

Guillaume Sicard, vice president of sales and marketing, China Region, Groupe Renault, commented: “The launch of the Renault City K-ZE Tmall Genie Edition allows consumers to experience a deeper connection between scenarios in their lives at home and their lives on the go. It is also a manifesto that DRAC and Tmall will continue to maintain profound cooperation on areas such as brand marketing, potential customer mining and sales network enablement, in order to achieve new breakthroughs.”

Honda’s Hasegawa Yusuke, executive vice president of Honda Motor in China, said the new partnership was part of a wider drive for the brand towards being a part of the internet of things, which has required a major transformation.

“The world’s mobility industries are currently undergoing a major transformation. Our mobility and daily lives will finally enter into the era of the Internet for Everything, Honda has been actively embracing the trend of electrification and ICVs, and accelerating the advancement of the third-generation Honda CONNECT system which includes the Smart AI function. We look forward to working with Alibaba A.I.Labs on creative initiatives by leveraging the AI technology and Alibaba’s diverse ecosystem services,” he said.

Many car brands are creating connected ecosystems within the car, particularly with the view of creating a new entertainment platform for users. Such platforms have been touted as a potentially valuable new platform for media buys.

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