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Alibaba joins the automotive race with new 'internet car'

Available in August from around $22,000, drivers can pay for parking, fast food and more without getting out of the car.


Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has just revealed its automotive ambitions with the announcement of an "internet car."

The mid-size SUV will be made with SAIC, one of China's big four state-owned automakers, and is called the RX5. It will retail for 148,800 yuan (converts roughly to $22,300, AU$30,000, £17,000) and will be available in August -- though international availability is not yet known.

The RX5 differs from a standard SUV through its integration with YunOS, Alibaba's operating system. This will allow drivers to book and pay for parking spaces, gas, fast food and more without having to get out of the car, thanks to Alipay.

Since the RX5 is cloud-connected, users will have an "internet ID" that allows them to personalise settings like temperature, music playlists and even have the car suggest places of interest, such as restaurants, based on past trips.

The company added that it would open the car edition of YunOS up to third party developers to design their own apps for the RX5.

Alibaba getting into the automotive game is big news, partially due to the magnitude of the company. With roughly $15.7 billion in revenue last year, it's one of the world's biggest e-commerce brands and is one of China's big three internet companies, alongside Tencent and Baidu.

The car comes with the usual suite of entertainment and navigation features as well as three LED screens for interfacing with the OS. Also, in a sign that this is a car made with the Chinese consumer in mind, it's kitted out with 360-degree detachable cameras for recording trips -- and selfies.

In an interesting move, Alibaba has decided against giving the RX5 a self-driving autopilot feature, meaning it'll avoid some of the problems Tesla has been facing.

The company was contacted about the car's international availability, but did not immediately respond.