BMW has been expanding into China and developing autonomous technology for cars, so that it can be at the forefront of the technology when the self-driving wave hits the mainstream.
The company has teamed up with tech giant Tencent for data computing and also a storage platform, because Chinese law says foreign companies can’t host Chinese data without a partnership with a local outfit, according to a report by TechCrunch.
The two companies will have a computing center in Tianjin by the end of 2019, and in the meantime BMW has been steadily expanding its footprint in the autonomous passenger car data market.
In February, the company’s navigation app Here teamed up with Chinese service Navinfo to collect local data about China. Both Navinfo and Tencent have bought shares in Here, so the partnership was expected.
Tencent has been seeking to diversify lately and put more attention on outside operations as its gaming business comes under increased scrutiny from regulators.
“Tencent is committed to assisting automotive companies in the digital transformation,” said Dowson Tong, the company’s president of Cloud and Smart Industry.
The move by BMW illustrates its commitment to the autonomous vehicle market in China. The company has been working with Baidu, China’s largest search engine company, since 2014.
The partnership was upped when BMW joined Baidu’s self-driving platform called Apollo, and the deal happened as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany.
Baidu president Zhang Yaqin said the deal with BMW was created to “accelerate the development of autonomous driving technologies that align with the Chinese market.”
BMW has also previously worked with Tencent on joint research for security with autonomous driving and testing, which used Tencent’s storied Keen Security Lab.
While Baidu and Tencent aren’t direct competitors, both companies are pushing in the field of autonomous technology in one way or another. In China, it’s common for a foreign investor to work with two different companies. BMW said that “there is no overlap in the collaboration” and it’s “cooperating with different top-notch Chinese companies in different fields.”