Ford Motor wants Tencent Holdings to tailor its popular chatting app for the firm's cars in China, as carmakers in the world's largest market vie for drivers that care about advanced features as much as engine size. Rivals including Daimler and Nissan Motor are also looking at ways to give drivers safe, hands-free access to mobile apps in China, home to the world's largest number of smartphone users. WeChat is China's most prevalent chatting app, with about half a billion active monthly users. "There's demand from our customers," said David Huang, a senior engineer who heads Ford's Asia-Pacific connected services unit. "People want to stay connected, stay informed and stay entertained all the time, even when they're driving." Ford was in talks with Tencent over the business aspects of putting the app in its cars, Huang said. Tencent declined to comment. Cars are becoming a key battleground for technology giants, including Google and Apple, as they seek to develop a market where drivers will be online while on the road. Huang said Ford envisaged drivers syncing their phone to the car's software system and controlling specific WeChat functions through voice commands or limited use of buttons. Making WeChat and other apps convenient, safe and legal to use while driving could help carmakers gain market share in China. Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based Automotive Foresight, said connectivity was a key deciding factor for Chinese customers buying a car. In August, General Motors and Tencent launched a platform for GM owners to use WeChat to find a nearby dealership or send their car's location to a friend.