US car maker Ford is looking to partner with Tencent Holdings to bring the developer’s popular chat app WeChat to its models in China.
Speaking to Reuters, David Huang, a senior engineer who heads up Ford’s APAC connected services unit said: “There’s a demand from our customers… People want to stay connected, stay informed and stay entertained all the time, even when they’re driving.”
WeChat is China’s most popular chat app with around half a billion active users each month. The partnership would give drivers in China, home to the world’s largest number of smartphone users, safe, hands-free access to the app.
Huang added that Ford envisages drivers syncing their phone to the car’s software system, allowing the driver to control specific WeChat functions through voice commands and limited use of buttons while staying safe and abiding the law.
The automotive industry is increasingly becoming a key battleground for the likes of Google and Apple as they look to develop a market where drivers can be online while on the road.