It’s official. Baidu, China’s largest Internet company, has officially announced plans to establish a company to produce “intelligent electric vehicles”. To do that, the “Google of China” is entering into a strategic partnership with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (ZGH), the holding company of Geely, the top domestic brand by sales and the most famous Chinese car brand outside of China.
Baidu, which describes itself as a leading Internet platform and AI company, says that it will provide intelligent driving capabilities to power the passenger vehicles for the new venture. Baidu has been working on autonomous driving tech for a few years now, and it operates an autonomous taxi service company called Go Robotaxi.
Meanwhile, ZGH – which has Geely, Volvo, Lynk & Co, LEVC, Proton and Lotus under its umbrella – will be in charge of automobile design and manufacturing.
“At Baidu, we have long believed in the future of intelligent driving and have over the past decade invested heavily in AI to build a portfolio of world-class self-driving services. China has become the world’s largest market for EVs, and we are seeing EV consumers demanding next generation vehicles to be more intelligent,” said Robin Li, co-founder and CEO of Baidu.
“As a top Chinese automaker with global reach, Geely has the unique experience and resources to design, produce and market energy-efficient, reliable and safe automobiles in large scale. We believe that by combining Baidu’s expertise in smart transportation, connected vehicles and autonomous driving with Geely’s expertise as a leading automobile and EV manufacturer, the new partnership will pave the way for future passenger vehicles,” he added.
Geely also released a statement on the topic and said that the new strategic partnership will make use of Geely’s recently announced world’s first open-sourced electric vehicle architecture, the Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA). The fruits of the partnership will be powered by Baidu’s full portfolio of tech, including Apollo autonomous driving, DuerOS for Apollo and Baidu Maps.
The Hangzhou-based company says that this development underlines its transition from a conventional carmaker to transport-technology and new mobility services. It is reported that the new EV entity will be controlled by Baidu, with Geely being a strategic investor with a minority stake.
Baidu and Geely coming together isn’t the first tech company-carmaker collaboration, and it comes just as we heard of Apple and Hyundai possibly working quietly behind the scenes. Other Chinese tech-auto partnerships include Alibaba and SAIC, and ride hailing company Didi Chuxing with EV specialist BYD.
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