A few weeks ago, it became clear that the Chinese technology group Baidu is looking into entering the production of electric cars. New information now shows that the production of electric cars will apparently take place in existing Geely plants.
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This is reported by the news agency Reuters with reference to two “sources familiar with the matter”. According to the report, the Chinese search engine group is planning to convert some of Geely’s existing plants so that they can produce electric cars using software from Baidu and technical expertise from Geely.
Against this backdrop, Baidu is said to be seeking to establish a new company responsible for the plant conversions, in which it intends to hold a majority stake. Reuters also hints at the vehicle platform that will be central to the cooperation plans. For example, it says the plan is to use Geely’s SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture) electric car platform for Baidu’s electric cars. Neither Baidu nor Geely have confirmed the news.
Back in December, the news agency wrote that Baidu was considering making its own electric vehicles and had held talks with Geely, GAC and FAW about a plan to do so. Also fitting into the picture is that Baidu agreed to cooperate with Geely subsidiary Volvo Cars in November 2018. The aim is to jointly develop and manufacture fully electric and autonomous cars for the Chinese market. Baidu will provide its Apollo platform for autonomous driving, it said in November. So far, Baidu has appeared in the electric mobility market mainly as an investor, for example, in WM Motor.
The fact is that the major Internet corporations are increasingly positioning themselves with an eye on the car market. Baidu’s rival Alibaba, for example, has set up an electric car joint venture called Zhiji with China’s largest carmaker SAIC and Shanghai’s Zhangjiang Group and is planning to start production as early as the end of 2021, as reported by ChinaDaily shortly before Christmas, among others.
In addition, Didi Chuxing is cooperating with BYD to produce electric cars for ride-hailing services, and rumours of an electric car from Apple, which have been simmering for years, have recently picked up again: The tech giant is reportedly aiming to start production of an autonomous electric car for the mass market by 2024. Quite new is the hint that Apple could approach Hyundai for this. Finally, Amazon, Tencent, and Alphabet, among others, are also turning to car-related technologies.
Update 11 January 2021: Baidu and Geely have now officially confirmed their cooperation for the development and production of electric cars. They intend to establish a joint venture for this purpose. It is also confirmed that the planned electric cars will use Geely’s SEA platform. Further details are to be published in due course.
Update 03 March 2021: The announced joint venture between Baidu and Geely for electric cars has now been established. The joint venture is called Jidu Auto and is based in Shanghai. The joint venture will launch with a share capital of two billion yuan (256 million euros). There are five seats on the new company’s board of directors. These include the newly appointed CEO Xia Yiping as well as three managers from Baidu and one from Geely. Baidu has both the voting majority and is also the majority owner of Jidu.
A source at Baidu said, according to the reports, that the tech group wants to focus on aspects such as autonomous driving to diversify its revenue streams beyond online advertising sales. Say: Geely will provide the drivable underpinnings for Baidu’s developments.
According to Jidu Auto’s registration, the company’s business purpose includes the development of new energy vehicles and related parts, as well as their manufacture and the sale of cars, car parts and accessories, in addition to “technical services”.
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