Chinese search giant Baidu has been recruiting talent in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai for its standalone intelligent EV company with automaker Geely, according to Chinese reports.
Citing insider sources, Sina Tech and The Paper reported that Baidu will take a 51% stake in the new firm while Geely will hold 49%. The company is very likely to be established in Shanghai, the reports added.
In early January, Baidu Inc announced a strategic partnership with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group aimed at manufacturing electric vehicles. As part of a deal to set up an intelligent EV company, Baidu will provide in-vehicle software, while Geely will put its engineering capabilities on the table, with the new passenger vehicle to be produced at Geely’s factories.
This is Baidu’s second round of hiring for the new EV company, and a number of headhunting firms are helping Baidu bring in directors, deputy directors and senior managers in marketing and public relations, Sina Tech added.
The first round of hires were all internal transfers, mainly to fill in technical positions. Those staff members would have to resign from Baidu first and then arrange to join the new company, the report said.
A spokesperson from Baidu told Pandaily that the new EV company is in the process of being established, and all aspects are advancing smoothly.
Pandaily understands that Baidu will have absolute voting power in the new firm, which will operate as an independent subsidiary of Baidu.
Automotive analysts and industry experts Pandaily previously spoke to were optimistic about the venture, saying the collaboration between Baidu and Geely is definitely a win for both parties.
“Based on the stakeholder structure, we can interpret that Baidu will have full control of the product and operations of the new company, unlike collaborations between Changan and Huawei, or Alibaba and SAIC, where the automaker has more say over decisions or the direction of the company,” Richard Wang, a senior analyst at the Gasgoo Auto Research Institute told Pandaily.
“With Baidu and Geely, it’s the other way around. Baidu will have more control in terms of the product concept, design, management, sales and operations,” Wang said.
The collaboration will be based on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA), an 18 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) EV-focused platform that relies on the use of aluminum to make vehicles lighter and a front steering system for steady driving.
The next-generation vehicles are expected to be sold under a new brand and loaded with Baidu’s full set of internet connectivity infrastructures, including the autonomous driving platform Apollo, voice assistance platform DuerOS and Baidu Maps.
Last week, Baidu received a permit from the state of California to test self-driving cars without a driver behind the wheel, allowing it to test three autonomous vehicles on specified streets within Sunnyvale, Santa Clara County.