Chinese search engine giant Baidu will be joining hands with auto firm Geely to develop and manufacture smart electric vehicles (EVs), the tech giant has announced.
While the role of Geely will be to provide its expertise on designing of cars and other vehicles and in manufacturing them, Baidu will add value to the partnership by offering its expertise on “intelligent driving capabilities”.
The owner of the Volvo brand and an investor in the Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler, Geely is among the biggest car maker of China. The joint venture of the two companies will be rivalling the United States based electric car maker Tesla as well as a number of other Chinese companies sin the arena of electric vehicles.
“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,” said Robin Li, co-founder and chief executive of Baidu.
Back in 2017, an autonomous driving unit called Apollo was established by Baidu. The major work of this unit is to develop technology powered by artificial intelligence and offers and provides the technology to several Chinese and other car makers of the world.
At the end of 2019, there were about 7.2 million electric cars on the road globally with the Chinese market alone accounting for about 47 per cent of that market, according to the calculation of the International Energy Agency.
About 20 per cent of the sale of new cars in China by 2025 will be accounted for by “new energy vehicles”, estimates the data provider firm S&P Platts.
“China has become the world’s largest market for EVs, and we are seeing EV consumers demanding next generation vehicles to be more intelligent,” Li said.
Since both car makers and tech companies are aspiring to develop smart cars throughout the world, therefore the competition for the partnership of Baidu and Geely is likely to be tough.
Development of auto-related technology or investments in smart-car startups have been done in recent years by internet giants including Tencent, Amazon and Alphabet.
An EV joint venture with Geely’s competitor SAIC has been formed by China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba.
On the other hand, auto maker BYD and Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride hailing app have formed a partnership for development and manufacturing of electric vehicles which are to be designed specifically to cater to the needs of ride hailing companies.
The announcement of the partnership between Geely and Baidu was made after reports of a potential partnership between the South Korean auto making giant Hyundai and the US based iPhone maker Apple. Reports on Sunday from South Korea have suggested that the two companies could sing an agreement on this purpose by March this year while they target to start manufacturing by 2024.
(Adapted from BBC.com)