Robot-like 'smart' auto in the works from Jidu Auto, Baidu joint venture

Business | 23 Apr 2021 4:12 pm

Jidu Auto, the electric vehicle venture between Baidu (9888) and Chinese automaker Geely (0175), aims to pour 50 billion yuan (HK$59 billion) into making smart cars over the next five years, Jidu’s chief executive told Reuters on Friday.

Xia Yiping said Jidu would aim to launch its first electric vehicle (EV) in three years, as is standard for the industry, but would make efforts to speed up that process.

Its first model would look like a “robot” and would target young customers, Xia said, adding that Jidu would analyze big market data before deciding on a final model.

“It will make you feel like it’s a robot that can communicate with you with emotions,” said Xia, who joined Jidu from Chinese bike-sharing firm Mobike, a company he co-founded.

Jidu plans to release a new model every year or every one-and-a-half years after the first one is launched, Xia said, without offering a sales target. It plans to hire 2,500 to 3,000 people over the next two to three years, including 400 to 500 software engineers.

The company, which is based in Shanghai and Beijing, also plans to roll out its branding in the third quarter of 2021, Xia said.

Xia said Jidu, which will use Geely’s open-source electric vehicle platform to develop cars, hopes to make cars in Hangzhou Bay in China’s eastern city of Ningbo, where Geely has several car plants. It plans to sell its car directly to customers to begin with, without using dealerships.


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