(Yicai Global) March 13 -- Skoda will roll out a new smart system developed in conjunction with a unit of tech giant Alibaba Group Holding on its models in China as part of efforts to appeal to younger drivers.
SAIC Volkswagen Automotive will gradually equip the system called Banma, meaning zebra in Chinese, on Skoda models after signing a deal with developer Banma Network Technologies yesterday, Yicai Global learned.
The system allows for real-time, online and connected ecological services, such as intelligent online voice navigation and information entertainment, Banma Chief Executive Officer Hao Fei told Yicai Global, adding that it will continuously provide upgrades.
As an open platform, Banma is open to more cooperation in the future, he said, adding that its use is not just limited to Alibaba's partners from the carmaking industry.
Skoda needs to improve how it caters to the younger generation in China's auto market, Michael Arndt, executive marketing director at SAIC Volkswagen's Skoda unit, told Yicai Global. The move is also an effort to keep up with the trend of smart and internet-connected vehicles, he said, adding that models including the Octavia, Karoq and Superb will also use the system.
The Octavia will be the first model to equip Banma, which includes a nine-inch screen as part of the first round of cooperation. The system supports AutoNavi's Amap, iFlytek, Alipay as well as built-in fourth-generation wireless network hotspot tech. Users can use the basic traffic data package without fees, while the developer will also offer a certain amount of additional traffic data without charges.
Skoda's Octavia model has achieved total sales of 1.3 million to date in China.
Editor: William Clegg