Ford Motor Co. wants to join forces with Tencent to install WeChat in its cars in China, capitalizing on the popular mobile messaging app’s hands-free features to reach out to those who are glued to their precious smartphones.
David Huang, a senior engineer involved with Ford’s Asia Pacific-connected services, explained to Reuters that there’s a demand from customers to “stay connected, stay informed and stay entertained all at the same time, even when driving.”
Ford’s idea, he said, would be for drivers to sync their phones to the car’s software system to allow hands-free control of the app, making it safe and legal to use while driving. By teaming up with WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app, Ford could have an edge in the Chinese market over tech giants such as Google and Apple, which are likewise targeting automobiles.
Nissan and Daimler, it turns out, are also eyeing Tencent to gain further appeal in China, which boasts the world’s largest number of smartphone users.
As Hubertus Troska, Chairman and CEO of Daimler China, told reporters in Beijing: “The race is on, very clearly”.