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Adam Minter

China Could Steer Self-Driving Cars

Alibaba's building out systems that will link vehicles to the roads they drive on.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma has a vision.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has a vision.

Photographer: VCG/Getty Images

In China, the cars are becoming smarter. Last week, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd. led a $348 million fundraising round for Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology Co. Ltd., a three-year-old startup developing internet-connected, electric cars. The investment might seem an odd one for online retailer Alibaba. But it's part of a larger vision for transportation that includes tools to design and run entire cities. Indeed, with backing from the Chinese government, Alibaba could soon seize the lead over European and American competitors in the race to define the future of transportation.

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