Three large automakers, namely Audi, Renault and Honda recently partnered with Alibaba A.I. Labs, the AI research division of online retail giant Alibaba to outfit future cars with AI voice assistants. The announcement was made at CES Asia 2019 in Shanghai and signals the beginning of Alibaba’s Tmall Genie Auto technology being installed into cars in China.

Incorporating AI voice assistants into cars appears to be the logical next step, since similar AI voice assistants and identical AI-based tech is already in use in a number of markets in other countries. In the case of Alibaba A.I. Labs’ pet project, Tmall Genie Auto will enable drivers to use voice commands and incorporate a voice assistant into future models from Audi, Renault and Honda. The move seeks to install the AI platform to cater to the needs and demands of motorists in the Chinese market.

Soon-to-be-released models of the three brands are expected to feature Tmall Genie Auto, and it will allow users to perform complicated tasks while driving, such as check on nearby restaurants or attractions, buy movie tickets, play children’s books, look up products or make purchases from Alibaba online, all by voice control. Users will also be able to pair the system with home controls, enabling them to control smart devices at home even while driving.

The Tmall Genie Auto system will have Natural Language Processing and speech-recognition AI onboard to perform these complicated tasks.

Renault will actually be the first to roll out a model with the Tmall Genie Auto AI, the Renault City K-ZE Tmall Genie edition (pictured below). This model will be an electric car designed for city driving and is scheduled for sale in China by the end of 2019.

The Renault City K-ZE will be the first model in China to have Alibaba’s Tmall Genie Auto AI (

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With AI being installed in cars in China, can other markets like the US and EU be far behind? Will Amazon and Siri catch up? As marketers, seeing that an AI like this can also feature ads and enable drivers to do online shopping, do you see this as your next alternative communications channel? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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