Alibaba Sets Up Auto, Smart Living Business Divisions

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has set up an auto business division and a ‘smart living’ unit, the company announced on Friday. The automobile unit will integrate all of its motor-related businesses. It is aimed at providing customers with one-stop services including new car sales, used car transactions, motor financing and localized services, reports Sina news.

Over 50 car brands join Alibaba’s auto unit

The auto unit includes various online-to-offline (O2O) services built around Tmall’s car sales section, Alibaba’s big data analysis and offering loans. The Hangzhou-based company said that Wang Licheng, the former head of Alibaba’s group-shopping platform Juhuasuan, will head the new automobile division. Alibaba said that more than 50 car brands including Volkswagen, BMW, Jaguar Landrover and Toyota have signed deals with Alibaba’s auto unit.

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The e-commerce behemoth’s O2O network includes about 10,000 dealerships and 20,000 car service outlets across the country. The move comes less than a month after Alibaba joined hands with China’s SAIC Motor to invest $161 million for the development of Internet-connected cars. Alibaba and SAIC plan to launch their vehicle next year.

Alibaba’s smart living unit aimed at small businesses

Alibaba and its rivals including Tencent and Baidu are in a race to introduce computing and Internet capabilities to a wide variety of everyday products from home appliances to TVs to cars. Last month, Baidu said that it would introduce its Internet-connected autonomous car by the end of this year. Alibaba hopes that its cloud capabilities and big data analysis will give it an edge over rivals.

The ‘smart living’ unit consists of Taobao’s crowd funding platform, Tmall’s electronic appliances shopping category, and a part of Alibaba’s cloud operations. The company said this platform will allow small businesses to raise funds from a pool of investors, and promote and sell their goods. On Thursday, Alibaba’s financial services unit launched a new e-commerce based stock index, the first of its kind in China. It will also launch an online bank in June.

Alibaba shares rose 0.85% to $86.87 in pre-market trading Friday.