In perhaps the most interesting technology alliance in recent memory, German carmaker Daimler is making software from Chinese search company Baidu available in its Chinese Mercedes-Benz cars, in a show of deepening ties between carmakers and consumer tech companies.
Most immediately car manufacturers are seeking to extend information and entertainment services available in vehicles and ensuring smartphone compatibility, in an era of increasingly connected cars.
But longer term the deal could lay the groundwork for using Baidu services in Daimler cars rather than Google.
Recently Uber, along with Baidu, were bidding on map data firm HERE, in an effort to combat Google’s rising dominance of mapping data, seen as essential to both location based services and self driving cars.
That battle has become a three-way race between German carmakers Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen’s Audi on the one hand, competing with a consortium including Uber and Baidu, and a third group including China’s Tencent and Navinfo.
The latest move by Mercedes could be a hedge against losing the bid to better funded tech companies who are flush with cash.
Daimler and Chinese tech giant Baidu announced their tie-up on Monday at consumer electronics show CES, which is taking place in Shanghai.
The new Mercedes-Benz cars will feature Baidu software that allows users to access content from their smartphones via their dashboards, such as music and Chinese Internet services.
The companies did not say when the first cars would be produced.