China: Alibaba restructuring introduces among others a new auto business division image

China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd – if you didn’t already know is the largest e-commerce company on the planet – last week initiated the forming of an automotive division.

The firm is increasingly expanding and as part of restructuring to refocus on the cloud computing, hardware and big data operations, it decided to set up both an automotive division and a ‘smart living’ unit late last week. Alibaba, together with most of its competing Chinese technology giants, has joined the worldwide race to have its existing Internet and computing capabilities inserted into numerous segments of the everyday life – from televisions and home appliances to automobiles. This means the company, worth around $214 billion, has rivals such as social networking and online entertainment titan Tencent Holdings, search leader Baidu, e-commerce rival Inc and recently emerging smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc.

China’s online shopping giant wants to use its prowess in the big data analysis and cloud computing segments, aiming for a more specialized approach that would emulate its general e-commerce success. The automotive division will have auto marketing services linked to Alibaba’s big data analysis, online retail site Tmall’s car sales section – they can also facilitate loans to get customers to buy new vehicles, according to officials of the company. They already signed partnerships with around 50 auto brands and 10,000 dealerships in China, with the new unit following last month’s announcement that Alibaba and Chinese carmaker SAIC Motor would jointly develop Internet-connected cars through a 1 billion yuan ($161.08 million) investment.