Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba Group Holding has announced that it has stepped up its participation in China's electric vehicle sector, launching a sedan with wireless charging under a new brand formed together with SAIC Motor, the country's largest car company.
The moves emphasize the growing ambition of Asia's largest tech groups in the automobile industry as they rush to partner with established carmakers to fast-track market entry and compete with U.S. rival Tesla in the world's biggest vehicle market.
Alibaba, already a major investor in domestic EV startup Xpeng Motors, is increasing its bet on the future of smart vehicles at a time when investors are sending shares of Tesla and Chinese rivals soaring.
The sedan unveiled on 13th January 2021 under the brand IM (intelligence in motion) was developed by a joint venture between Alibaba, state-owned SAIC, and Shanghai Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Development, an investment arm of the city government.
The trio formally launched the venture on 25th December 2020. SAIC is the largest shareholder, with a stake of 54 percent, while Alibaba and Shanghai Zhangjiang each hold 18 percent. Alibaba and SAIC first connected to developing high-tech models in 2014.
The IM sedan features a new solid-state battery from Contemporary Amperex Technology, China's largest battery maker, with a higher energy density than those in use now, as well as chips from the U.S. tech group NVIDIA.
The vehicle will be able to self-park and include smartphone functions such as photo-shooting and social media sharing.
IM will start taking preorders in April during the annual Shanghai auto show. A second model, a sports unit vehicle, is targeted for delivery in 2022.