Daily Management Review

Baidu’s Electric Vehicle JV Jidu Auto To Invest $7.7 Bln In ‘Robot’ Like Smart Cars


Baidu’s Electric Vehicle JV Jidu Auto To Invest $7.7 Bln In ‘Robot’ Like Smart Cars
The chief executive of Jidu Auto, which is a joint venture between China’s tech giant Baidu and Chinese automaker Geely for making electric vehicles, has set plans for investing 50 billion yuan ($7.7 billion) for the production of smart cars within the next five years, said a report by the news agency Reuters.
Baidu and other investors will make the funding for the project, Xia Yiping said, and added that the aim of Jidu is to launch its first electric vehicle in three years, which is the standard time for the industry. The company will however also try to speed up the process.
The first electric vehicle from the company would resemble a "robot" and it would be targeted at the young customers, Xia said. But before deciding on a final model, Jidu would analyse big market data, Xia added.
"It will make you feel like it's a robot that can communicate with you with emotions," said Xia. He was also the co-founder and the chief technology officer at Chinese bike-sharing firm Mobike till it was taken over in 2018 by Meituan in 2018.
The new joint venture company was launched in January and comes at a time when firms all over the globe are trying to develop smart cars following the success of Tesla to commercialize its electric vehicles.
Xia said that Jidu has also made plans for launching a new model once every one or one-and-a-half years after launching its first electric vehicle. Xia however did not provide any sales target for the company. A work force of between 2.500 to 3,000 people will be hired by the company which will include 400 to 500 software engineers.
Xia said that plans to roll out its branding in the third quarter of 2021 have been drawn up by the Shanghai and Beijing based Jidu.
Geely's open-source electric vehicle platform will be used by Jidu, Xia said, and added that the company hopes to manufacture its cars in Hangzhou Bay in China's eastern city of Ningbo, where a number of factories of Geely already exist.
Its vehicles will be sold directly to customers and there will be no dealership networks of the company for its cars.
The plans of setting up the company with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group were announced in January by the Chinese search engine company Baidu. At that time the company had said that this new venture aimed to make use of the intelligent driving expertise of Baidu and the car manufacturing capabilities of and Geely.
55 per cent of Jidu is owned by Baidu while Geely owns the rest.
Over the years Baidu has managed to develop smart car technologies including autonomous driving, high-definition maps and cloud, and the company now is considering to allow Jidu to use semiconductor chips designed by Baidu.Baidu first established its autonomous driving unit Apollo in 2017.
Other Chinese tech giants harbouring auto ambitions include smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp and telecom giant Huawei Technologies.