China search giant Baidu is looking into making its own electric cars
A little over two years ago, we wrote about Baidu after the China search giant teamed up with U.S. automaker Ford to collaborate on a two-year joint autonomous vehicle test project to develop and test self-driving vehicles on designated roads in Beijing by the end of this year, and possibly other Chinese cities. The joint project was part of Ford’s plan to further advance and promote autonomous vehicle technologies, supporting the company’s vision of designing “smart vehicles for a smart world.
Whatever happened to their partnership, it is now clear that Baidu has a plan of its own. After spending years developing autonomous driving technology, Baidu reportedly held talks with Chinese carmakers about making its own electric vehicles, according to an exclusive report from Reuters, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.
It now appears that Baidu is taking a note from Google playbook. In addition to its dominance in the search space, Baidu also develops autonomous driving technology and internet connectivity infrastructure. The search giant is now considering contract manufacturing or creating a majority-owned venture with automakers, one of the people told Reuters. Baidu is now the latest in a list of tech giants including Tencent, Amazon, and Alphabet all working on autonomous driving in the race to develop smart cars.
The initiative would be a step up from internet peers such as Tencent Holdings Ltd, Amazon.com Inc, and Alphabet Inc, which have also developed auto-related technology or invested in smart-car startups, Reuters said.
Baidu has held preliminary talks – without reaching any decisions – with automakers including Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd (GAC) and China FAW Group Corp Ltd’s Hongqi, on a possible venture, the people said.
Founded in 2000 by Eric Xu and Robin Li, Baidu is the largest Chinese language Internet search provider and search engine that enables individuals to obtain information and find what they need. Baidu offers functional online search, Tieba community search, industry-based vertical search, mp3 search, portal channels, and instant messaging services. Its products include Baidu Webpage, Baidu Video, Baidu Map, hao123.com, BaiduPedia, Baidu Input, Baidu Toolbar, TTPlayer, Iqiyi, and Sky Software.