Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, is preparing to unveil its first Internet-connected smart car in April, at the Beijing Auto Show.
The new Roewe City sport utility vehicle is the physical manifestation of several deals Alibaba has inked in the last year, including a $160 million agreement with state-controlled SAIC Motor Corp and $590 million stake in smartphone manufacturer Meizu. The “internet car” will be joint-released with SAIC and powered by Yun OS, the Meizu smartphone operating system, Alibaba tells Quartz.
The companies aren’t releasing many specifics about the vehicle ahead of the car show, saying only that it will hit the Chinese market in the second-half of 2016 and will expand “car-to-car, car-to-road, and car-to-infrastructure communication.” China has been working to further develop its transportation infrastructure to accommodate cars that connect to one another and the roads on which they’re traveling. In October 2014, German firm Deutsche Telekom agreed to supply its technologies to China Mobile to build a platform for internet-connected cars in China, Forbes reported. And Baidu, the operator of China’s largest search engine, released its own smart car in late 2015.
In a statement on new vehicle development, SAIC chief engineer Jing Lei said the internet “will become a must-have feature of future cars and will help the user struggle through the ‘painful moments’ of owning a car as well as create ‘sweet moments’ in travel.”