German automaker Audi has teamed up with Chinese tech giant Tencent to work on an intelligent and interconnected digital ecosystem for future vehicles, including digital cockpits, digital marketing and other user operations.
Future Audi vehicles in China are expected to run in-vehicle WeChat, QQ Music, Tencent Map and other digital services from Tencent, the Chinese tech giant announced on Monday.
“Strengthening strategic cooperation with Tencent will help us further expand the Audi product ecosystem for Chinese users and provide customized services for their specific needs,” said Werner Eichhorn, president of Audi China.
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Tencent’s in-car WeChat platform, first unveiled in August 2019, allows drivers to operate the popular app through voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel. Drivers can check and send messages, make WeChat calls and send their real-time location without taking their hands off the wheel.
Chang’an was the first automaker to equip the in-car app onto its vehicles, including the CS75 Plus. Other partnerships with Tencent include BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Audi, which has grown a strong following in China since its entry in 1988, has been ramping up efforts to transform digitally, signing partnerships with various national tech companies such as Baidu, Alibaba and Huawei to collaborate on in-car digital services and other intelligent vehicle development projects.
In China, it produces cars with state-owned FAW Group and is aiming to sell 1 million vehicles in the country in 2023, Eichhorn said in January. Audi sold 727,358 vehicles nationally in 2020, a 5.4% jump year-on-year and the brand’s best result on the Chinese market yet.
Last October, it signed a memorandum of understanding with FAW to launch a venture to make premium electric vehicles (EVs). The models will be based on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) – developed with Porsche – and will be manufactured in China from 2024.