Roewe RX5: world’s first mass-produced Internet car debuts on market
The launch of the new car marked Alibaba's first entry into the automobile industry as well as boosting SAIC's transformation to embrace the Internet economy.
By drawing on SAIC's innovation achievements, the RX5 subverted tradition and ushered in a new genre of cars, setting a new standard for the Internet car industry. SAIC's 10 years of ceaseless effort paid off as it made a new step in establishing a mobile smart ecosystem.
The RX5’s successful debut on the market was also a sign of SAIC's active push for innovation-driven development, upgrading and transformation centered on China's national strategy as well as Shanghai's goal of building a tech innovation center. It is expected to bring about a fundamental change to the Chinese and even global auto market, ushering in a new age in the world's auto industry.
Tapping crossover integration
The RX5's success was based on the two companies' strong comprehensive capabilities.
Ranked 60th on the Fortune Global 500 list, SAIC has the largest user base in China. It has strong and consolidated capacities in vehicle integration and parts development, rich experience in telematics/Internet of Vehicles application, R&D and operation, and a complete system in sales, service, logistics and finance.
On the other hand, Alibaba is a leading Internet company in China and owns independently-developed YunOS, alongside China's largest cloud computing platform and Internet big data. It has built up enormous Internet content, services and industry ecosystem, and is equipped with core technologies and service capabilities in e-commerce, finance, maps and navigation, and telecommunications.
The Internet Plus era has brought great changes to the auto industry, prompting car makers and Internet companies to actively explore ways of working together.
SAIC and Alibaba joining hands in developing the "car on the Internet" was the choice of both sides to seize opportunities and meet challenges. In as early as July 2014, the two companies showed foresight with the signing of a cooperation agreement that offered visions of an era of "cars on the Internet". Over the past two years of collaboration, the companies had to adjust to transformation pains and give full play to their respective advantages, which culminated in the RX5’s premiere at the Beijing Auto Show in April. The official release of the new car on the market will surely lay a solid foundation for smart cars and smart transport in the future.
Making China’s best SUV
Over its 10-year history, Roewe, SAIC’s self-owned medium to high-end brand, formed an independent R&D system with concerted efforts coming from Shanghai, Nanjing and the UK. It developed several models that catered to consumers’ needs and took pride in the achievements made in their respective markets. The company also made every effort to forge a self-developed manufacturing system, and built a manufacturing base at Shanghai’s Lingang port area featuring “lean, agile, flexible, modular and high quality” design/production/management, a business model that proved effective and later on was applied to SAIC’s Pukou base in Nanjing and its plant in Thailand.
Forging self-owned auto brands is part of the Chinese dream and also what SAIC has always been pursuing. After ten years of investment and ceaseless effort, SAIC built up innovation and manufacturing capabilities that were best represented by RX5, the world's first mass-produced car on the Internet.
Since its debut on the Beijing Auto Show, the RX5 has drawn a lot of attention. The elegant and smooth design, graceful interior layout, manufacturing virtuosity and full equipment make the RX5 excel in quality and overtake its rivals on the market, becoming “China’s best SUV”.
The gene of innovation
Innovation is in the genes of the RX5 and the soul of SAIC’s sustainable development. The RX5 marked a major step in the innovation-driven development of SAIC, the first car maker to have collaborated with an Internet company.
The RX5 has taken full advantage of SAIC’s resources in R&D, industrial design, powertrain, new energy technology, automotive electronics and architecture, as well as Alibaba’s resources including the YunOS, the third-party online payment solution Alipay, Ali Telecom, AutoNavi and Xiami Music. By opening up to the Internet and big data, the RX5 is able to provide smart travel solutions to users through integrating online and offline resources centered on motor life.
In addition, the two companies have completed an open-ended top-level design for the project. In March 2015, they announced the launch of a 1-billion-yuan ($150 million) Internet car fund for setting up a joint venture company as well as developing Internet car R&D and operation platforms.
Moreover, the “car on the Internet” concept is also an innovation. Aimed to address drivers’ annoyances during the life time of a car – which include repair and maintenance, traffic, refueling, parking and environmental protection needs – the RX5 development team analyzed big data and studied consumers’ habits and plan to roll out pure electric, plug-in hybrid and conventional gas-powered editions. In addition, consumers will also be offered timely, interesting and valuable information and services, which will further help reduce annoying motoring moments.
The two companies are also exploring ways to integrate service resources closely related to the auto industry, in a bid to shape an Internet-based automotive ecosystem and create brand new service systems and business models for a better motor life.
SAIC and Alibaba will upgrade the Internet car at a fast pace, and gradually apply SAIC’s latest research achievements in new energy and smart driving technologies to the car. Besides, hardware in the car will be continuously developed and expanded, software will be automatically updated and cloud data will be gradually enriched and accumulated, thus realizing endless upgrading of the car. In this way, the Internet car will become a smart car that has a soul and can constantly check itself, study on its own and improve itself.The cooperation between SAIC and Alibaba has set a perfect example for the integration of the car and Internet industries. In the future, SAIC will make every effort to push forward innovation-driven development, embrace the Internet economy and strive to accelerate its transformation from a traditional enterprise mainly relying on manufacturing to a comprehensive product and service provider.