On December 16, 2020, we warned our readers that Baidu – Google’s equivalent in China – was trying to find an automaker to produce its own electric cars. If you ask why, the reason is similar to that Google had to found Waymo: research autonomous driving. In fact, Baidu probably wants to sell it in its future electric cars.
According to the joint press release, Geely will help Baidu by offering its SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture). We have already spoken about it, but it always handy to recover its main advantages: modularity – you can make cars from the A-segment up to the E-segment – a range of up to 700 kilometers NEDC (435 miles), and a battery pack lifespan of 2 million km (1.24 million miles).
On top of that, Baidu will add its “full portfolio of technologies, including Apollo autonomous driving, DuerOS for Apollo, and Baidu Maps.” If you are trying to understand the move just like us, you should probably focus on Apollo.
This has no relationship to the German supercar that became a brand from Hong Kong, but rather to a different company dedicated to autonomous driving. On its website, Baidu’s Apollo talks about the robotaxi Baidu is developing with FAW and which you can see in the video above and this one below.
Interestingly, Baidu is testing the Apollo tech by offering regular customers of Baidu Maps free rides in its robotaxis in Hebei. The cars have a professional driver and an engineer monitoring the vehicle in these free rides, a very different approach to that Tesla has towards its autonomous technology research.
According to Baidu's CEO, Robin Li, the autonomous driving industry will enter the full commercialization stage by 2025. If that is really the case, Baidu’s move makes even more sense.
When the company’s autonomous tech is ready for production – not in beta testing – it wants to have its own electric car to sell. More than a product, it will be a vessel for Baidu’s real product. We hope the company is not as persistent in selling it as its programs are about uninstalling procedures.
Source: Baidu, Geely, and South China Morning Post