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Audi partners up with Chinese companies to bolster digital portfolio

The company has signed three letters of intent with Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.

Why stop at just one partnership?

Horacio Villalobos/Corbis/Getty Images

Audi's on the verge of expanding its efforts in China with not one, but three new partnerships.

That's good news for Audi because China's car market is big. So big, in fact, that it's actually the world's largest car market at the moment. It makes sense, then, that automakers the world over would be champing at the bit to do business in the Middle Kingdom.

The luxury brand under Volkswagen Group has signed letters of intent with Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, Reuters reports. Financials were not mentioned, but the goal of these partnerships is to expand Audi's digital services, and each Chinese firm brings something different to the table.

Audi will partner with Baidu, an online search company, to expand the use of smartphone apps inside the vehicle. The company is working with Tencent, a social network and online gaming outfit, to expand use of the WeChat free messaging and calling app. As for Alibaba, Audi hopes to better utilize real-time traffic updates and 3D maps.

Meanwhile, VW Group has severed talks with three big US tech firms. The automaker has reportedly stopped talking to Uber, Google and Apple, because VW wants to "remain in control of its relationship with car users," Reuters claims. VW still has a financial stake in Gett, a smaller ride-sharing company that had its pricing structure recently integrated into Google Maps.