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China keen on so-called 'Internet cars'

CHINESE people are willing to pay for “Internet cars” — so called because they are largely produced by Internet companies — which feature new technologies like autonomous driving, smart in-vehicle systems and devices, and various mobile and connected services, industry reports said yesterday.

More than 201 startups relating to smart driving have raised funds, with a total value of around 60 billion yuan (US$8.7 billion), in the last four years, covering projects on autonomous driving, new energy, machine-human interfaces and smart in-vehicle systems and devices, according to tech media TMTPost, which released its first smart driving report recently.

Since 2013, Internet giants including Google and Apple have dominated the sector, which has generated attention and interest in smart cars. In China, Baidu and Alibaba have teamed up with car makers to jointly explore the future of “Internet cars”.

Last week, China’s biggest computer maker Lenovo also established a joint smart car computing platform with Nio, a Shanghai-based smart car startup.

Until now, 76 percent of Chinese consumers are willing to purchase cars made by Internet firms in the near future, compared with 45 percent level globally, according to research firm Capgemini, which tracked 8,000 consumers in eight countries.

Connected cars and artificial intelligence technologies are “the next big things” in China, thanks to booming data and consumers willing to pay for it, said Nick Gill, Chairman of Capgemini’s Global Automotive practice with over 25 years’ experience.


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