Two of China’s largest companies are teaming up to disrupt the automotive industry. Internet giant Baidu, and Chinese car manufacturer Geely, have announced a collaboration, continuing the trend of big tech companies diversifying into the future of passenger transportation.
On 11 January, Geely, the largest car manufacturer in China, said the two mega-firms would collaborate, bringing their expertise in artificial intelligence, programming, and automotive production to the partnership.
The announcement came hot on the heels of fellow big tech firm, Apple’s foray into the automotive industry. Last week, the California-based company contacted Hyundai about a potential collaboration, according to CNN. The South Korean automobile manufacturer’s stock surged 8.7% in a week on the back of the report – the firm’s strongest day on the markets ever.
According to Car and Driver, the new electric vehicle (EV) will feature Geely’s electric sustainable experience architecture (SEA) – the automotive market’s first open-source EV architecture.
Geely unveiled the modular design in September 2020 and nine of Geely’s partners have opted for the new, zero-emission carriage.
The Geely/Baidu EV will have three different motors to choose from and has an estimated range of 700km once optimised. Geely said the highest specification model will achieve 0-100km/h in under three seconds – faster than a Porsche 911 GT3.
Baidu brings its self-driving system, Apollo, to the newfound partnership. Apollo was unveiled in late 2020. The central features of the Apollo system are pre-installation on mass-produced vehicles, 5G remote driving services, and ‘the experienced AI driver’, said Baidu’s corporate vice president and general manager of Intelligent Driving, Zhenyu Li.
Baidu said the Apollo driving system has used its state of the art AI to complete over six million kilometres of unmanned testing with no accidents of note. More than 100 000 individuals have been transported by the Apollo system since testing began, according to the firm.
New energy vehicle sales in China are forecast to grow 500% in the next four years, according to the State Council of China. Electric vehicle sales are expected to make up one quarter of all new car sales by 2025.