Jidu Auto, the electric vehicle (EV) venture between Chinese search and AI giant Baidu and automaker Geely, will unveil its first model at the 2022 Beijing Auto Show, according to its top executive.
Xia Yiping, CEO of Jidu, announced at a company event on Tuesday that the concept car will be a near-production version and pre-orders could start sometime in 2022.
Geely will be responsible for manufacturing and developing the Jidu EV based on its open-source EV chassis base, dubbed Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA), while Baidu will equip the vehicle with its autonomous driving platform Apollo. Jidu will work on brand positioning and developing sales channels.
Xia said the car, which will be catered to younger users, will be priced above 200,000 yuan ($31,337) due to “the relatively high costs of smart car components.”
Jidu will not be building its own plant and supply chain from scratch, Xia added. The partnership with Geely will enable the company to take advantage of the automaker’s manufacturing capabilities, thereby lowering production costs.
The executive also confirmed that Jidu is planning a new funding round for this year’s third or fourth quarter.
Jidu was established in March with a registered capital of 2 billion yuan ($309 million) following Baidu’s announcement in early January that it had formed a strategic partnership with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group aimed at manufacturing electric vehicles.
The company, in which Baidu has a 55% stake and Geely with the remainder, plans to plough 50 billion yuan ($7.7 billion) into producing smart cars over the next five years.
Xia, who was the co-founder and chief technology officer of bike-sharing platform Mobike, was appointed CEO of the new EV venture in March.
“The concept of electric vehicles isn’t new at all, but in the past few years, EVs have really reached the mass consumer level, and having more people use and enjoy electric cars is really important. The same goes for autonomous driving — the next step is to turn L4 autonomous vehicles into a reality, and promote them to hundreds of thousands of households,” Xia previously stated in an interview with GeekPark, adding that this would be the new EV company’s mission for the next three years.
In March, Nasdaq and Hong Kong-listed Baidu posted a stronger-than-expected 25% jump in first quarter earnings from a year earlier, beating analysts’ estimates.
The Beijing-headquartered company reported 28.13 billion yuan ($4.38 billion) in total revenues for the three months ended March, compared with the average 27.3 billion yuan ($4.2 billion) that had been forecast.
The strong performance was driven partly by its non-advertising revenue, which rose 70% year-over-year to 4.2 billion yuan ($646 million) and includes the company’s cloud, AI and smart transportation businesses.
The firm’s autonomous robotaxi service, Apollo Go, is operating in Beijing, Changsha and Cangzhou, and is expected to expand to 30 cities within three years.
The company announced at the Shanghai Auto Show in April that it plans to have Apollo’s solutions pre-installed in at least one mass-produced car model each month in the second half of 2021, with a target of at least six car models in total.
Baidu Senior Corporate Vice President Li Zhenyu said that the firm aims to have Apollo’s solutions pre-installed in one million vehicles over the next three to five years.
Right now, Baidu’s autonomous driving solution for carmakers such as Weltmeister, Toyota, Geely, Ford and GAC includes the vision-based Apollo Navigation Pilot (ANP) and Apollo Valet Parking (AVP).