Economic review

Shanghai Auto Show 2017: Are cars the smartphones of the future?

2017-04-19 15:40:00 (Beijing Time)         CGTN

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As cars become more alike under the hood, they're differentiated by the digital dashboard. Automakers are buying up or working with tech companies to bring out connectivity tools to reshape the way we see and use cars.‍

The concept of connectivity is becoming more and more meaningful in the auto industry. With "connectivity", cars could become smart and talk to other cars, devices and even infrastructure.

Geely unveils its Lynk & Co brand model, the 01 sport utility, at an event ahead of the Shanghai Auto Show, in Shanghai, April 16, 2017. /VCG Photo

New car brand Lynk & Co, which is Geely's new sub-brand, was named after connectivity, and its senior vice president Alain Visser predicted that connectivity would be a global trend in the auto industry.

"The global trend is for the connectivity, and the young generation desires it. We are the only car with a share button, so we didn't add it at the end, it was integrated. And free data traffic, which is always connected, opens doors to new services," Visser said.

The connected car concept was developed at Geely's Swedish R&D center, China-Europe Vehicle Technology, with almost 1,900 engineers working on future technologies. Its CEO, Mats Fagerhag, was confident that the creative concept would attract a younger audience, since the elements of the connected car, open platform, new thinking and sharing, are all what the younger generation is interested in.

Not only do automakers see a bright future in connectivity, tech giants also plan to join in the new technical auto industry. Some famous tech enterprises, such as Microsoft, Apple and Amazon, are pairing up with automakers to offer connectivity tools that allow customers to relax more, and do more.

Benz's new car prepares to display at Shanghai Auto show, in Shanghai, April 18, 2017. /VCG Photo

Theo Drijfhout, CEO of Asia Pacific at Bosch Multimedia, said they have already begun cross-cooperation with Daimler on totally automated driverless vehicles, and developing "vehicle to vehicle communication" technology in China.

Others who lack the ability to develop connectivity tools, choose to buy the tools directly. Samsung Electronics, as an example, shelled out nine billion US dollars on its biggest buyout yet C for Harman, which has a range of in-car connectivity technology.

Young Sohn, president and Chief Strategy Officer of Samsung Electronics, shakes hands with Dinesh Paliwal (R), CEO of Harman International Industries, after a news conference at Samsung Electronics' office in Seoul, South Korea, November 21, 2016. /VCG Photo

"For connectivity, the needs of the younger generation (are increasing). Like 10 years ago when iPhone launched, it was not just a phone, but customer behavior. Like this, it is not just a vehicle, but representation of their lifestyle," said Frank Hu, general manager of auto retail at JD Power.

Global trends suggest that smart cars, instead of just fast cars, will be the winning vehicles of the future.