5 Automobile Predictions for 2019 From Alibaba
COVID-19 and China
Xiaopeng Motors released its first mass-produced electric SUV Xpeng G3. PHOTO: Credit to Xiaopeng Motors website.

8 Jan, 2019 /EqualOcean/ - Chinese tech giant Alibaba built its business around e-commerce in the past decades, it has now become one of China's three tech kings, collectively known as the BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent). But now, the giant becomes more and more interested in the automobile industry in China by investing and acquiring dozens of companies in the industry sector, and has built an "Alibaba Automobile Ecosystem."

The company released its "Automobile Industry Predictions For 2019" on Monday, in which 10 executives from Alibaba's "automobile ecosystem" companies shared their opinions on what they saw as the key milestones of 2018 and what they think is in store for 2019 in the automobile industry of China. Here are 5 of them worth sharing.

Concept cars are no longer enough

"Without real mass production of cars, none of the new car-making startups will survive in the year of 2019," said HE Xiaopeng (何小鹏), CEO of Xiaopeng Motors (小鹏汽车), an Alibaba-backed autonomous vehicle maker. At the end of 2018, Xiaopeng Motors released its first mass-produced electric SUV Xpeng G3.

In the past few years when autonomous driving became an entrepreneurial hot spot in China and capital poured into this area, a great number of autonomous driving startups were founded, but what they returned to the community were mostly what they called "concept cars," which are often radical in self-driving performance and design, but unlikely to be mass-produced.

"I think there will be two trends in 2019," said HE Xiaopeng. "The first one is polarization, which means the gap between top companies and small companies widens; the second trend is that only with real mass-production of their cars will autonomous driving car makers survive in this year, because the autonomous driving industry has to be tested by the market. "

Digitalization is the keyword of auto market

YAO Junhong (姚军红), founder and CEO of Souche (大搜车, Dasouche) , another Alibaba-backed auto new retail platform company, suggested that the auto market will enter a phase of adjustment in the next two years, and digitalization of auto market will be the keyword.

"As consumer confidence wanes, and the excess capacity of auto industry increases, the whole market will be more chaotic than it is now," said YAO Junhong. "I think the opportunity is the digitalization of auto trading, which will not only improve the efficiency of the industry, and also popularize the concept of 'auto new retail,' and increase the user values and auto sales by providing them with a lower price," said him.

Level 3 autonomous driving's rapid development

"Level 3 autonomous driving is entering a period of rapid development in 2019," said WEI Dong (韦东), president of Gaode's (高德) automotive division. "In next 5 years, the process of self-driving development will speed up, and the progress of mapping and locating technology will make driving more interesting and efficient," said him.

According to WEI Dong, a better navigation system associated with traffic big data will bring a much more relevant, personalized and intelligent kind of service to drivers, because a high-precision navigation system will provide the accuracy that a vehicle requires to be self-driving, and the traffic big data can analyze drivers' personal driving preference and provide the optimum path planning.

On the other side, with the rapid developing of Level 3 (SAE) autonomous driving technology, high-precision navigation system and traffic big data will improve the cooperative vehicle infrastructure system to make sure that vehicles know the road ahead in advance. "These improvements will provide people with a safer and more comfortable driving experience, and an enormous boost of travel efficiency," said WEI Dong.

The year of high-precision mapping

"2019 will be the year when high-precision mapping technology can be applied to people's daily driving," said NIAN JinFei (年劲飞), general manager of the autonomous driving division of Qianxun Spatial Intelligence (千寻位置), a leading high-precision positioning service provider and also a joint venture of Norinco Group (中国兵器工业集团) and Alibaba Group.

"While we are reaching the summit of the development of autonomous vehicle, high-precision locating and mapping technology will be standard on all modern cars, more and more vehicles will have the ability to located themselves to centimeter-level accuracy. In this situation, we will see a major improvement of the country's road efficiency," said him.

Big data is the core competency

LIU Fei (刘飞), general manager of Alibaba Cloud's automotive and autonomous driving division, believes that the ability to build and operate big data platforms is the core competency of new car makers.

By doing this, car makers will gain a whole set of advantages, according to LIU Fei. For example, big data will bring precise analysis of potential user group, so that car makers can conduct precise marketing analysis, product planning and advertising. And also, big data will help to improve the technological link of car making, so that car makers can reduce inventories and the delivery cycle of auto parts.

"When all the data from marketing, driving, telematics, car making and supply chain are connected, there will be a revolutionary change in the automotive industry," said LIU Fei.

*Contributor: ZHANG Nan
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