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Singapore's fastest-growing online car marketplace to buy and sell new and used cars, UCARS, is integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud computing into its platform, together with Huawei, to provide consumers with enhanced transparency, security, and satisfaction.
Singapore car owners can now expect to sell their vehicles within three days at the highest prices when they use the AI-enhanced tools provided by the UCARS platform. This is part of the company’s commitment to shifting the automotive industry towards a more modernized and customer-centric landscape.
Using AI, the company has successfully created a proprietary valuation tool on the platform that provides consumers with an estimate of their cars’ resale value within seconds, making it the first instant AI car valuation tool in Southeast Asia. Compared to other valuation methods that take at least a day to give an estimate, the UCARS AI valuation tool is the fastest valuation tools available to consumers in the region.
With the current economic lull due to COVID-19, transfer of private vehicle ownership for cars has seen an average of 15% year-on-year increase and reached an all-time high in September 2020 (source: LTA). Consumer demand for new and used cars has been seeing a steady increase in the Southeast Asia region.
"We speculate that some Singaporeans are anticipating an economic rebound in the near future, and coupled with pent-up demand for cars and reduced quotas, we are expecting to see car sales skyrocket in the coming months," said Cho Kok Yick, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of UCARS.
One seller, Gideon Lam, who has successfully sold two cars on UCARS, stated that his experience was seamless as UCARS "helped to coordinate all the necessary preparation" without him needing to do extensive preparatory work. Another seller, Michael Chong, showed appreciation towards UCARS for ensuring that the entire process was "smooth and transparent" at both ends.
"We want to make the second-hand car selling process as safe and as easy as possible. This is why we continuously invest in AI technologies. This will, of course, be made possible by Huawei technologies," Cho added.
"This is a really exciting time, where we see more companies harness the power of AI to change the way they do business. Huawei is excited to embark on this journey with UCARS, to help digitalize and deepen consumer trust in the automotive industry as well as to improve the customer journey and experience," said Daniel Zhou, President of Huawei Cloud & AI Group in Asia-Pacific.
Making Better Decisions with AI
Due to the pandemic, consumers worldwide have shifted their shopping habits, and this applies to the automotive industry that traditionally thrives on face-to-face interactions.
To help consumers make better informed decisions in a fraction of the usual time, UCARS is progressively introducing new and improved tools and services powered by AI onto the platform by partnering with Huawei.
With the help of HUAWEI CLOUD, UCARS seeks to deepen consumer trust by integrating better infrastructure and cloud security into the platform, and embarking on several AI-related projects to improve the customer experience. This includes a car image search engine powered by machine vision and Machine Learning (ML), as well as an improved AI valuation tool. All of them are developed on ModelArts, the AI platform of Huawei.
Using an improved algorithm, the accuracy of each valuation on the UCARS AI valuation tool improves with every use. By getting a better estimate on the value of their car, consumers can sell their car on the UCARS platform with peace of mind, knowing the amount they can expect to get back, and at a fraction of the usual time it would take on other automotive platforms.
UCARS is also working on creating an AI-powered car search tool to help consumers identify the make and model of a car using only images. With machine vision, image recognition can be used to find a specific vehicle that consumers want.
"We are confident that by building a strong core in the area of deep tech, we will be able to power future growth in the automotive industry in a post-COVID world," said Cho.
The government’s push for digitalization, combined with disruptive technology solutions like AI and big data platforms, startups like UCARS are stepping up to create and adapt their current technologies.
A Transparent Experience on the Cloud
Notably, the automotive industry faces difficulties communicating and forging meaningful relations with its consumers in a digitalizing society due to obsolete and inefficient operating processes. Therefore, there is a lack of trust and confidence in the products and services sold by local car dealers.
According to Cho, UCARS eliminates the need for consumers to disclose their personal contact information by using the platform’s built-in chat system. This allows consumers to connect seamlessly with dealers without divulging more information than necessary.
Moreover, when dealers list on UCARS, there is no need for consumers to worry about hidden fees or undisclosed package deals, as they are provided with the latest and most accurate information on every listing.
Cho added that, after migrating its backend systems to HUAWEI CLOUD, the UCARS platform has become more stable and is now able to handle large amounts of data much better and more securely than before.
Launched in Singapore early last year, HUAWEI CLOUD has been investing significant resources in partnering with local startups such as UCARS. As startups strive to optimize their backend infrastructure and AI algorithms to better meet business objectives, they are safe in the knowledge that Huawei’s services are secure and affordable. Indeed, UCARS is also one of the five finalists in Huawei Spark 2020, a hybrid accelerator program launched by Huawei for deep tech startups.
"A more robust architecture translates to an enhanced user experience for both dealers and consumers. We truly appreciate the help that Huawei has been providing us throughout the integration process, and we look forward to more collaborative projects in the future," Cho added.
With innovation at heart and technological know-how in mind, UCARS continues to bring consumers and dealers closer by digitalizing human interactions in the automotive industry, positioning itself to become the future of automotive retail.