Baidu and Geely will produce electric vehicles
Chinese corporation Baidu has announced plans to develop electric vehicles in partnership with Geely. Baidu will create software for autonomous driving, while Geely will directly produce.
Geely, one of the largest car manufacturers in China, owns Volvo and a stake in Daimler, the owner of Mercedes-Benz. For the production of electric vehicles, Geely and Baidu will form a new structure. Reuters reports that Baidu will hold a majority stake and absolute voting rights in the new firm, while Geely will have a minority stake. The company will be based on Geely's electric vehicle division, Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA).
“Over the past decade, Baidu has invested heavily in developing AI for world-class autonomous driving. China has become the world's largest market for electric vehicles, and we see users' need for smarter next-generation vehicles. By combining Baidu's expertise in smart transportation with Geely's expertise as a leading car and electric vehicle manufacturer, we will pave the way for the transportation of the future, ” said Robin Lee, Baidu's co-founder, and CEO, in a press release.
Baidu launched Apollo AI to develop autonomous driving solutions in 2017. This division is dedicated to creating AI-powered software and works with automakers such as Geely, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Ford. Baidu also owns Go Robotaxi autonomous taxi service in Beijing, Changsha, and Cangzhou and plans to expand to thirty cities in three years. The company received approval last week to test five vehicles in Beijing that will operate unaccompanied by a human driver.
"Baidu's plan to build electric vehicles is likely to benefit the concept of AI vehicles," Jason Chen, transportation analyst at research firm Analysys, told Reuters. "However, the success of Baidu's auto production will also depend on government support, equipment cost reduction, and user demand."
Baidu has become one of the tech companies looking to develop smart cars following the success of Tesla. In particular, according to the BBC, last Friday Hyundai announced that it is at the "early stage" of negotiations with Apple on a possible joint production of electric vehicles. A few hours later, Hyundai revised the statement by explaining that it is in talks with a number of potential partners without naming Apple. Korea IT News said Sunday that the two companies plan to sign the deal by March and start producing electric vehicles around 2024.
In addition, e-commerce giant Alibaba has formed an electric vehicle joint venture with China's largest automaker, SAIC Motor, and China's Didi Chuxing is partnering with automaker BYD to produce an electric taxi.
As the BBC points out, citing data from the International Energy Agency, by 2019 there were 7.2 million electric vehicles in the world, of which 47% were in China. Data provider S&P Platts estimates that EVs will account for 20% of total new car sales in China by 2025.