Chinese internet giant Tencent acquired a 5 per cent stake in US electric car manufacturer Tesla for $1.8 billion: a move with the potential to boost Tencent’s presence in the connected car sector.
The Chinese company accumulated about 8.2 million shares of Tesla, making it the fifth-largest shareholder in the US company, according to data from Bloomberg.
Tencent, one the largest tech companies in Asia with a market capitalisation of about $275 billion, made a number of strategic investments in the connected car and ride sharing sectors in recent years.
In 2014 it was an early investor in Chinese ride hailing company Didi Dache (before it merged with Chuxing) and US-based Lyft. In 2015 Tencent invested in NextEV, a Shanghai-based electric vehicle (EV) startup, and also funded EV startup Future Mobility in Shenzhen.
A number of Chinese tech firms have set up research facilities in the US to explore the use of assisted and driverless cars. In mid-March Didi Chuxing opened a research centre in Silicon Valley to develop assisted and autonomous driving systems.
Baidu, China’s dominant search engine, also established a self-driving vehicle unit in Silicon Valley a year ago as part of an ongoing strategy started in 2013.
E-commerce giant Alibaba and state-owned car maker SAIC Motors introduced a internet enabled car last summer. The two companies agreed to partner in 2014, with cars built by SAIC to be powered by Alibaba’s Yun operating system and its GSP and its cloud computing service.