Tencent Launches WeChat For Drivers
China’s Tencent, which owns the WeChat brand, has leapfrogged Facebook to become one of the world’s top five most vaAFP/File / Richard A. Brooksluable companies.

Tencent on Monday unveiled a version of its popular social media app WeChat tailor-made for drivers with state-backed Chinese carmaker China Chang’an Automobile Group, marking a further foray into transportation solutions.

China’s most popular messenger, with more than 1.1 billion users, will be embedded in new car models coming to the market later this year, the two companies said at the annual Smart China Expo in Chongqing.

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While the mobile app offers services such as payment and entertainment, the car version will have limited functions based on voice control and a button on the wheel, allowing the driver to send or receive messages and make calls while driving, and integrate Tencent Map’s navigation service, Tencent said.

Tencent, which is trying to transform itself from a consumer-oriented social and gaming firm to an enterprise service provider, said in a statement it had secured partnership agreements with 21 automakers including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi to roll out solutions for connected cars on 45 models.

China’s state-run news agency Xinhua said on Monday 530 deals worth 817 billion yuan ($115.2 billion) had been signed at the Smart China Expo.