Alibaba releases smart car for less than $25,000

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For a long time, the Alibaba Group has been doing more than merely selling simple products through its popular e-commerce platform. Now, the retail giant has a smart car.

Before you jump to conclusions, this is not an automated car like the one being developed by Google and Tesla Motors. It is a car that is hooked up to the Internet, and operates through the company’s YunOS operating system, which is used by other smart products developed by Alibaba, such as refrigerators, air conditioners, and robot vacuum cleaners.

Smart and to the point

The car, called the OS’Car RX5 Sport, is the fruit of a cooperative venture between Alibaba and SAIC Motor Corporation, China’s largest auto manufacturer. In contrast to ordinary vehicles, Alibaba’s car will be supported by a constantly updated cloud-based platform that will continually study how to improve the driver’s driving experience.

Alibaba has installed its e-commerce ecosystem in the RX5, among other things in order to enable drivers to order and pay for parking, gas, and cafes through Alipay, without any app, cash, or credit card. In addition, every driver will have their own Internet ID that will enable the operation system not only to identify the driver, but also offer them personalized recommendations for music, the temperature in the car, and nearby restaurants that the driver is likely to enjoy.

Being a smart car, the RX5 will also include built-in navigation, voice identification support for certain commands, and three LED displays for controlling the operating system, together with 360-degree cameras that will document the journey, and, inevitably, enable you to take selfies on the way (if the idea does not appeal to you, the cameras can be removed). The car’s operating system will also be open to other companies wishing to offer their services through it.

What is nice about Alibaba is that it puts its money where its mouth is. You can order the car now for $22,300 (for the basic version) through Tmall, with a projected delivery date this August. If you happen to be in China, the car will be on display from July 20-31 at the Alibaba festival.

“Humans have made machines more intelligent in the past few decades. What we hope to achieve in the coming decades is to inject machines with human wisdom. Just as software programs have made the phone smarter today, YunOS will make cars an even more indispensable part of human life in the future society,” said Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma.

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