Alibaba is bringing its Alexa-like Tmall Genie Auto tech to Audi, Honda and Renault

The digital assistant has been around for a bit, but it's finding its way into Chinese-market cars from an increasing list of manufacturers.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read

Alibaba's Tmall Genie Auto looks to be a cross between Apple CarPlay or Android Auto with the retail capabilities of Amazon's Alexa.


Getting your digital assistant of choice into your car is becoming a hot topic of late with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto leading the pack. Amazon's Alexa is making strides in the automotive world too, with several third-party devices coming to market that will bring her along for your ride.

Now though, according to a report published Monday by Reuters, China's e-commerce giant Alibaba is getting even deeper into the game with its Tmall Genie Auto smart speaker. The Tmall Genie has been around since 2017, with an automotive-friendly version hitting the market in 2018.

The Tmall Genie Auto device will next make its appearance in Chinese-domestic market vehicles from Honda, Audi and Renault. This is in addition to previous pledges by BMW and Volvo to add the device to their vehicles.

Among the first vehicles to get the Tmall Genie Auto integration is the aptly named Renault City K-ZE Tmall Genie Edition, which has a weird Tmall cat logo decal on the side and is set to go on sale later in 2019, according to a blog post Tuesday by Alibaba's internal news service Alizila.

"The launch of the Renault City K-ZE Tmall Genie Edition allows consumers to experience a deeper connection between scenarios in their lives at home and their lives on the go," Guillaume Sicard, Groupe Renault's vice president of sales and marketing in China, said in a statement.

Sure, you're probably thinking that having an always-on device listening to your every word in your car in a country known for its overzealous domestic surveillance tactics sounds like a potentially dramatic invasion of one's privacy -- and you'd be valid in having those concerns.

Still, in a country where your social credit score determines things like your ability to travel freely or decide where your child goes to school, being able to order movie tickets by voice from your car is probably handy. It will also let you control your other smart devices connected to the Tmall Genie service.

"We are thrilled to partner with global, distinguished auto brands such as Audi, Renault and Honda," Miffy Chen, general manager at Alibaba AI Labs, said in a statement. "Together, we can greatly enhance our in-car services and make driving experiences more intelligent and interconnected."

All of Amazon's Alexa smart speakers

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