By Jay Jay
In a move to cash in on China's burgeoning demand for cars with internet connectivity, Ford Motors is in talks with Tencent Holdings Ltd, the owner of popular Chinese messaging app WeChat.
More and more automobile buyers in China are looking for advanced tech features rather than engine specifications, with greater emphasis on being online while on the road.
Ford's decision to tie-up with Tencent does not seem strange, given that WeChat is preferred by over half a billion Chinese users. Most Chinese app addicts use their phones as walkie-talkies while driving for voice-based chats.
To make the process safer, convenient and legal, Ford seeks to sync users' smartphones with the car's software system to control specific WeChat's functions through voice and a few 'click' commands.
David Huang, senior engineer at Ford, said, "There's a demand from our customers. People want to stay connected, stay informed and stay entertained all the time, even when they're driving."
Incidentally, and predictably, Ford isn't alone in the race. Major rivals in the Chinese luxury car market like Daimler and Nissan are already working on providing hands-free access to apps and smartphone features to customers while driving.
As recently as in August, Tencent tied up with General Motors to launch a platform for GM users to use WeChat functions for locating nearby GM stores and sharing their locations with online friends.