BMW China Plans on Preinstalling Vehicles With WeChat Messaging App

Apr 21, 2015 05:59 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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BMW owners in China, rejoice! You'll be able to access Tencent Holding's WeChat app in your ride as early as this time next year, according to Reuters.

WeChat, the most popular chatting app in China, doesn't currently come pre-installed in any vehicle in the country, despite having nearly half a billion active users.

BMW is working on a way to fix that by adding the app to its vehicles without asking Tencent Holdings to change its software.  

Rene Wies, the head of BMW China's R&D team, told Reuters that it will take about a year before BMW can add WeChat if no changes are made.

"Tencent is currently not as open as one would maybe expect, and they are in a competitive environment trying to bring new features so making any changes to the software for the car industry is not on their focus," he said during an event held to coincide with the Shanghai Auto Show.

Tencent Holdings has not commented on the deal with BMW yet.

The German automaker wants users to be able to control WeChat through voice commands once the app is introduced in order to keep drivers from getting too distracted.  If Tencent was willing to change its software a little the app could be added in about six months or less, according to Reuters.

General Motors already has a partnership with Tencent which allows owners to use WeChat to find local dealerships or send their location to a friend's vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz's parent company, Daimler, is looking to add apps from Tencent and Ford has publicly stated the automaker wants WeChat in its vehicles eventually, according to Reuters.

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