Mercedes-Benz has announced a closer partnership with Baidu which China ‘asks’ rather than googling. The Chinese search engine is now one of the world’s five most visited websites and offers a huge choice of web-based services.

The aim of the partnership is to offer Chinese Mercedes-Benz customers more individual services for their connected vehicles, taking account of the specifics of the Chinese market.

In 2013, Mercedes-Benz integrated Baidu’s Street View into its vehicles as the first automaker in China. The automaker’s research and development centre, opened in Beijing in 2014, will contribute to pick up such trends even faster and transfer them into custom-tailored products in the future. By the end of this year, there will work more than 500 engineers and designers – many deal with HMI and telematics.

Hubertus Troska, Daimler’s Greater China chief, said: “To be successful in China on the long term, we have to focus especially on the digital lifestyle and the trends of our youngest customer group worldwide. At this point, our continuously growing activities in the field of research and development come into play as well as our strong Chinese partner. Together, we consequently pursue the goal of offering our Chinese customers innovative products that enable us to tap on our full potential here.”

The cooperation will start the integration of Baidu’s CarLife in M-B cars. This is a smartphone based infotainment system developed specifically for China: the contents of the phone display are transferred – via wifi or USB – to the car’s screen, with the functions being controlled reliably and conveniently by the vehicle HMI controller or touchpad. Mercedes has previously shown what the system could look like in an E-Class.