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Alibaba Brings Tmall Genie to Audi, Honda and Renault Vehicles

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【Summary】French car manufacturer Renault has taken a bold lead in streamlining the integration process by announcing a special vehicle model that showcases the smart speaker. Called Renault City K-ZE Tmall Genie Edition, the car will be available for purchase by the end of 2019.

Michael Cheng    Jun 14, 2019 5:00 AM PT
Alibaba Brings Tmall Genie to Audi, Honda and Renault Vehicles

Alibaba's presence in the connected car space just got wider. The e-commerce giant announced (during CES Asia 2019 in Shanghai) it has partnered with Audi, Honda and Renault on in-car hardware and digital assistant technologies. 

Through Alibaba AI Labs, the company's AI research arm, it will bring the Tmall Genie Auto smart speaker to numerous Chinese-domestic vehicles offered by parties participating in the collaboration. The compact unit can be used to integrate a handful of everyday services with cars, ultimately allowing individuals to control smart devices at home from a remote location, order online products, purchase movie tickets and more.

In addition to the three automakers, BMW and Volvo also plans to incorporate the smart speaker with selected vehicles (based on previous partnerships).

Partnering with Major Car Brands

The agreement entails the installation of AI-powered Tmall Genie in new Audi, Honda and Renault vehicles. French car manufacturer Renault has taken a bold lead in streamlining the integration process by announcing a special vehicle model that showcases the smart speaker. Called Renault City K-ZE Tmall Genie Edition, the car will be available for purchase by the end of 2019. The vehicle contains a distinct cat logo on the exterior to help distinguish the model from the automaker's lineup. Audi and Honda have not revealed their plans to integrate Tmall Genie with future vehicle offerings in China.

"The world's mobility industries are currently undergoing a major transformation," highlighted Hasegawa Yusuke, Executive Vice President of Honda Motor (China).

"Our mobility and daily lives will finally enter into the era of 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."

Tmall Genie Smart Speaker

The Tmall Genie smart speaker is designed to support busy, on-the-go lifestyles. Initiated using voice commands, the device can connect to smart systems in other locations, which enable customers to control compatible lights, dishwashers, thermostats and appliances from their car. Furthermore, the platform is linked to essential Alibaba online shopping features. Using the smart speaker, individuals could check on the status of packages in real-time. Recommendations for nearby eateries, hotels and events are also available through Tmall Genie.  

To date, the smart speaker is compatible with more than 600 smart appliance brands. It is considered to be a top-selling connected device in China. The unit was heavily developed by Alibaba AI Labs, which builds cutting-edge e-commerce solutions for the company, as well as its clients and partners.

"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," said Miffy Chen, General Manager at Alibaba AI Labs.

Alibaba's Tmall Genie features several similarities with Amazon's Echo Auto. Interestingly, both businesses launched a home version of their respective smart speakers before the in-car versions. Other large tech establishments, such as Apple and Google, also offer digital assistant services for vehicles.

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