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Hyundai Motor, Baidu team up for connected cars in China

BEIJING (Yonhap) ― Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea’s top carmaker, said Tuesday it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Baidu Inc., China’s top search engine, to sell cars that are equipped with Internet access and in-vehicle infotainment services.

Riding a wave of popularity of smartphones and other wearable gadgets, the global auto industry is increasingly betting on cars that can be connected to the Internet with drivers’ smartphones or even without them.

Baidu launched its first software for the in-car infotainment platform, called “CarLife,” in Beijing earlier in the day and Hyundai plans to showcase its Sonata sedan compatible with the Baidu software in April, Hyundai officials said.

Details of the Baidu software were not immediately known, but it aims to catch up with products of bigger U.S. technology giants, such as Apple Inc.’s CarPlay and Google Inc.’s Android Auto systems.

“The Chinese government has yet to officially announce whether to support Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. So, Hyundai Motor signed a memorandum of understanding with Baidu to forge a collaboration to cope with the Chinese market for connected cars,” the South Korean carmaker said in a statement.

Along with Hyundai, General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG-Audi are among the carmakers to sell cars with the Baidu software in China, according to the statement.

Hyundai, its affiliate, Kia Motors Corp., and their Chinese joint ventures sold 1,843,354 vehicles in China last year, up 10.3 percent from the previous year, the statement said, without giving this year’s sales target in the world’s largest auto market.

China accounted for 23 percent of the total vehicle sales by Hyundai and Kia last year, up from 22 percent the previous year, the statement said.
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