More car smarts
Shell has joined forces with Alibaba to trial a smart service station in Beijing. The location uses geo-fencing technology to detect cars as they pull up to pumps, and the system fires up an app on the vehicle’s touchscreen. Users can make fuel option choices, order items from the store, and then pay directly through the Alipay payments platform or via their Shell accounts.
What's this about?
Shell is testing the technology with Banma Network Technology, a joint venture between retail giant Alibaba and Chinese auto manufacturer SAIC. The energy giant says the system can reduce time spent at service stations by as much as 50%. Also in the pipeline are more customised services based on analytics of consumer preferences and each gas station’s product offerings.
What does it mean?
Banma explains that the initiative is looking to develop a new retail-driven business model targeting cars hooked up to the Internet.
“We want to realise the promise of connected cars to enable the entire car and travel industry,” says Banma CEO Alex Shi. “And through our collaboration with Shell China, we want to empower the energy sector, delivering exceptional commuter experiences to car owners and substantially improve work efficiency for gas stations.”
Banma last month teamed up with digital security outfit Gemalto for the production of China's first connected car, the Roewe RX5. The vehicle will use Gemalto mobile technology to enable advanced telematics such as Bluetooth virtual car key, vehicle locationing, voice-command-enabled control of in-car functions plus real-time road condition alerts.
The Chinese connected car market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 45% and may be worth up to $34m by 2020. Chinese penetration is projected to reach 18% over the same period.