Audi’s move takes into account the fact that China is the largest single market for passenger cars worldwide. Plus, China is a leading digital economy. “China has become a leading market for digital technologies”, explained Joachim Wendler, president of Audi’s China subsidiary.
With the agreement, Audi builds on its significant local development competency in China. In Beijing, the carmaker is already present with its largest R&D center outside of Germany. Digital key technologies such as the connected car, highly automated driving, alternative drive technologies and digital services are some of the most important topics for the Audi engineers in Beijing.
The move also expands existing collaborations with China’s leading internet players. Together with Alibaba, Audi already integrated real-time traffic data into its MMI user interface. In addition, Audi claims to be the first premium carmaker to offer high-resolution 3D navigation maps.
The current R&D efforts will bear fruits for the first time in 2017, when Audi will integrate the offering from Baidu Car Life in its local product portfolio. This will enable customers to integrate Baidu’s mobile apps into their cars. The first joint project with Tencent is the integration of the latter’s WeChat MyCar services into Audi’s cars. Among the first functions to be offered are sharing location information and music streaming.