Baidu is the number one search engine in China, backed by a multinational tech conglomerate and now it wants to build electric cars too.
If you’re not Chinese or familiar with the internet scene in the People’s Republic, then you may not be familiar with Baidu. It is the leading search engine in a country where Google is banned, and just like Google, it is also backed by a multinational tech company with diverse ambitions.
One of these ambitions, apparently, is to design and build its own electric car. Baidu Inc is already developing autonomous driving technology, as well a ’s internet connectivity infrastructure, but branching out to build automobiles is a stretch for a company with no prior experience.
Even so, Reuters reports, quoting unnamed sources, that
‘ 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. They declined to be identified as the talks are private. ‘
The source also points out that when it reached out, Baidu chose not to comment on the news. When Geely was asked, that company said it was not aware of it, while FAW reportedly declined to comment on the matter altogether.
As previously mentioned, Baidu has had a separate unit within the company working on self driving tech. It’s called Apollo and it was founded in 2017 - it provides AI-powered tech to both global and Chinese automakers. Baidu also has its own autonomous taxi fleet/ride hailing service, called Go Robotaxi, which is currently in operation in three major cities (still with drivers on board, for safety reasons) and the plan is to expend it to as many as 30 cities within the next three years.
Even so, the move to actually design and build its own electric cars from the ground up would still be a pretty big undertaking for the company. However, so far nothing is official, so we’ll have to wait for the company to acknowledge these rumors before we dive any deeper into this matter.