For BMW, China is their largest market, and the company realizes they need to keep up with their growing demands of Chinese consumers. BMW's new vehicle models will need to include features including self-driving features in order to match the regions demands.
But to build it itself in China is hardly possible. The success of autonomous driving relies in part on high-definition mapping, a process that requires an expansive collection of geographic information. By law, foreign entities can’t host China-based data without local partnerships. Apple noticeably works with a Chinese firm to store user emails, text messages and other forms of digital footprint in the country.
That appears to be one of the catalysts for BMW’s new partnership with Tencent. The Chinese tech giant, which is best known for WeChat and runs an expanding cloud computing business, said on Friday it’s setting up a data computing and storage platform for the German premium carmaker. Reuters reported that the pair plans to launch the computing center by the end of this year in Tianjin, a port city near Beijing.
The tie-up came months after BMW’s earlier data expansion in the world’s largest passenger car market. In February, Here — a Google Maps alternative partly owned by BWM — joined forces with Chinese navigation service Navinfo, which would help Here collect data locally. It’s perhaps by no coincidence that Navinfo and Tencent both bought small shares in Here three years ago.
As BMW gets more familiar with China’s road conditions, there’s no reason why it won’t apply the data to its freshly minted ride-hailing venture.
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