Baidu has already developed autonomous vehicle tech, but now plans to produce electric vehicles in partnership with Geely, the Chinese automaker that owns Volvo and Polestar, according to MSNBC. The idea is that Geely will design and manufacture the EVs, while Baidu, China’s search equivalent to Google, will supply the technology. “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 Baidu CEO Robin Li in a statement.
China’s EV market is getting more crowded every day, thanks in part to government subsidies and rapidly expanding charging infrastructure. On top of incumbents like Tesla and domestic companies Nio, Xpeng Motors and others, other tech companies like Foxconn (with Byton) and Alibaba are jumping in. In November 2020, Tesla delivered over 20,000 EVs in the nation, up nearly 80 percent over a single month.
Baidu, meanwhile, is attempting to expand its business beyond search and advertising. The company has been working on autonomous vehicle tech since 2017 and previously teamed up with Geely-owned Volvo in 2018 on self-driving cars. The goal at the time was to achieve Level 4 status, though that still seems many years away. Nevertheless, the Baidu’s tech was recently approved for fully driverless road tests in Beijing.