Tencent and Honda partner to develop auto infotainment system

Linda J. Dodson

GUANGZHOU — Chinese internet services giant Tencent Holdings and Japanese carmaker Honda Motor announced on Monday a tie-up to develop in-car infotainment systems for the Chinese market.

The two companies aim to create a system that lets motorists make online payments and enjoy audio entertainment and other services safely while driving.

The alliance comes as Tencent looks to expand in the face of slowing growth in its smartphone and internet services business. Tencent and Honda’s Chinese subsidiary said they will work to equip Honda cars with Tencent’s TAI connected car system.

Tencent will apply expertise gained through the development of its smartphone WeChat messaging app to TAI. Under the partnership, Tencent will incorporate new functions into the system for Honda cars.

TAI will, for example, allow motorists to order coffee from a cafe by voice command, make a payment and then pick up their purchase. The infotainment system will also enable motorists to listen to Tencent’s exclusive music streaming content, internet radio, and audio books and newspapers.

Tencent has up to now had an edge over competitors in personal computer and smartphone gaming and other services, but it has recently faced stiffer competition. It is responding by moving into new businesses.

Tencent’s flagship WeChat app reached 1.2 billion users in the January-to-March quarter. But its year-on-year growth was a lackluster 8%. That is considerably slower than the 30% 40% growth it saw around 2015. By cultivating automotive and other new lines of business, Tencent aims to revive its high growth.

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