Baidu will provide intelligent driving capabilities to power the passenger vehicles for the new venture, and Geely, which holds the distinction of best-selling Chinese automobile brand in past years under the Volvo and Geely brands, will contribute its expertise in automobile design and manufacturing. The vehicles will be sold under a new brand.
“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.”
The collaboration will be based on Geely’s EV-focused platform, Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA), Geely said in a separate statement.
Baidu established its autonomous driving unit Apollo in 2017. The unit mainly supplies technology powered by artificial intelligence and works with automakers such as Geely, Volkswagen, Toyota and Ford.
Geely, which has ambitions to become China’s first truly global automaker, has done a string of high-profile international deals in recent years. Since acquiring Sweden’s Volvo in 2010, it has become the controlling shareholder of brands Proton and Lotus and has taken a 9.69 per cent stake in Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler.
Baidu’s move comes as many tech companies around the world are racing to develop smart electric cars, after Tesla Inc’s success in commercializing EVs.
Apple is pushing to design an electric vehicle and batteries, aiming at a possible 2024 launch.
Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has formed an EV joint venture with China’s biggest automaker SAIC Motor Corp while China’s Didi Chuxing is making EVs designed for ride hailing services with automaker BYD.