On January 7, 2021, Baidu announced a new collaboration with Geely, the parent company of Volvo Cars and an ally of German Daimler, to manufacture its own electric car. After Didi Chuxing and Alibaba, there is a third Chinese giant in the field of clean automobiles. Technology giants around the world are entering the automotive industry.
After autonomous driving, the electric car for Baidu
According to Reuters, the electric car would only be a starting point for Baidu. Indeed, the Chinese giant wants to invest a lot in the transportation sector and certainly accelerate its work with autonomous vehicles, the future of the automobile and public transportation. Baidu has been working on this topic for several years.
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For example, the company has deployed autonomous minibuses in China and Japan. Baidu is apparently known in the autonomous vehicle space for developing the Apollo 5.0 platform, an autonomous driving technology developed by the company’s Chinese engineers. Open source technology that enables almost autonomous driving. To be precise, this is an improved perceptual model for complex street scenarios.
More recently, Baidu has received permission to test its autonomous driverless vehicles on the streets of Beijing. It was early 2020 and a first for the Chinese capital. No driver on board, but the ability to remotely control the vehicle thanks to the 5G driving system presented by Baidu. Apollo 5.0 is not yet in its infancy. The platform has already carried more than 100,000 passengers through 27 cities around the world.
A collaboration with Geely
This new partnership with Geely is sure to result in the creation of a new company that specializes in electric cars. Baidu will be responsible for developing the software, while Geely will focus solely on the vehicle. We already know that Baidu will hold a majority stake in this future company. The Chinese giant wants to stay in control even if Geely is a professional in the industry. Geely is even working on the development of flying cars.
Baidu complies with the guidelines of the Chinese government. In fact, Beijing has assumed since 2017 that the ban on heating vehicles could take place by 2030. The Chinese government has also announced measures to support this clean vehicle transition. Consumers who choose to buy an electric car receive several subsidies. If China is ahead in this area, it is still way behind Norway, which today sells more electric vehicles than heat vehicles.