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April 13, 2015

Alibaba eyes ‘smart living’ and auto industry

Chinese group formed automotive and 'smart living' business units.

By Joao Lima

E-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding announced it has created an automotive unit and a ‘smart living’ division as the it ramps up its cloud computing, hardware and big data operations.

Alibaba is racing to introduce internet and computing to several devices used on a daily basis by consumers from televisions and home appliances to cars.

The $214-billion company is now officially competing with rivals like social networking and online entertainment giant Tencent Holdings, search leader Baidu, e-commerce competitor JD.com and hotshot Smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc.

Alibaba is looking ahead to open another chapter in its history has approaches cloud solutions and big data to better serve customers, as it looks to repeat the successes it has seen in overall e-commerce with more specialised categories.

A spokeswoman from Alibaba told the agency the automotive business unit includes car marketing services built around Alibaba’s big data analysis, online retail site Tmall’s car sales section and providing loans to help people buy vehicles.

The venture has seen nearly 50 car brands and 10,000 dealerships partnering with the giant. Chinese auto maker SAIC Motor Corp announced it will invest $161.08 million in a fund to develop Internet-connected cars.

As for the ‘smart living’ division, the company explained it will mainly focus on Tmall’s electrical appliances online shopping category, some cloud computing operations and online customer-to-customer marketplace Taobao’s crowd funding platform which allows smaller businesses to raise capital from a large group of investors to promote and sell their goods.

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