Tencent Holdings 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.
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 CNY 817 billion ($115.2 billion) had been signed at the Smart China Expo.
Earlier this month, Tencent Holdings posted a better-than-expected 35 percent rise in quarterly net profit, as its gaming arm regained growth momentum on a thaw in new approvals by China after a freeze for most of last year.
The world's largest gaming firm by revenue reported CNY 24.14 billion ($3.44 billion) in net profit for the second quarter ended June, versus an average estimate of CNY 20.74 billion from 13 analysts polled by Refinitiv.
Revenue rose 21 percent to CNY 88.8 billion, versus an average forecast of CNY 93.4 billion from 16 analysts.
Smartphone gaming revenue rose 26 percent to CNY 22.2 billion, helped by major titles including "Honour of Kings", "Perfect World Mobile", "Peacekeeper Elite", as well as new releases.
Tencent said it launched 10 new games in the quarter, versus only 1 in the previous quarter.