For as long as cars have had radios , drivers have enjoyed belting out their own – sometimes questionable – vocal accompaniment. But buyers in China are really taking this singalong thing seriously. They want to sing karaoke in their cars. That means having a fancy big screen and Apple CarPlay isn’t enough to secure dealers a sale. Customers are asking if a car offers compatibility with singalong apps like Changba. And Western carmakers are struggling to keep up with the trend, according to a story in Automotive News . The report says that Chinese brands like XPeng , Nio and BYD all offer cars fitted with karaoke microphones, giving them an edge against Western brands who could never have dreamed that anyone would even think to make such a seemingly bizarre request. “We’ve identified this as a challenge,” Christophe Grote, BMW’s digital car chief, told Automotive News. “ Chinese consumers are the most demanding when it comes to digital technology in the car.” Related: Chinese Rolls-Royce Customers Are Buying $1 Million Cars With Their Smartphones BMW, along with every other Western brand keen to retain a foothold in China in the face of increasingly stiff local competition, will have no option but to comply. Not only is China the world’s biggest car market, but it accounts for 36 percent of BMW’s global sales and 40 percent of Volkswagen’s . And the ability to criminally misuse a perfectly good Bose or B&O audio system with your own tone-deaf wailing isn’t the only bit of digital technology missing from many Western cars. Automotive News says Chinese customers, who live much of their lives through the WeChat app, also expect features like in-car payment options and expanded social media connectivity. The news outlet cites a 2020 report from consulting firm Kearney that found two-thirds of local buyers thought Chinese navigation apps were a non-negotiable feature on new cars and warned that Western brands risked being left behind if they didn’t embrace the concept of total connectivity . Automotive News says that while BMW hasn’t yet managed to bolt a microphone to its cars’ dashboards, it does now allow drivers to pay parking fees via WeChat and is working on expanding its connectivity features.
CNY - Chinese Yuan Renminbi