Geely will be in charge of the manufacturing process, while Baidu will take care of the software and technology to power it, as the company has already invested heavily in code that would eventually help it expand in this market.
Baidu has previously launched an autonomous taxi service in Beijing, with the cars powered by a software project known as Apollo. Most likely, Apollo would make its way to the new electric cars as well, though, for the time being, only a few specifics have been shared.
Apollo-powered tech has also been licensed to other carmakers, including Volkswagen and Toyota.
Like Google, Baidu has invested aggressively in other technologies that could eventually make their way to the automotive market, including navigation software and digital assistants, to power a hands-free experience behind the wheel. Baidu Maps is currently one of the most popular navigation solutions in China, and it’s available for Android devices at no cost.
Baidu hasn’t provided an ETA as to when its first electric vehicle could get the go-ahead, but the company explained in a press release this new project comes as a natural step given the new trends in the market.
"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.
Baidu has previously explored a new electric vehicle company with several other Chinese manufacturers, including GAC and FAW.
Baidu is planning to establish a company to produce intelligent electric vehicles for consumers. Leading auto manufacturer @GeelyGroup will serve as a strategic partner for the new company.— Baidu Inc. (@Baidu_Inc) January 11, 2021