Baidu's Robin Li explains why the company enters car-making industry

February 18, 2021 CV TECH INC

Baidu’s previous announcement that it will form an electric car joint venture with Geely has sparked much speculation, and now Robin Li, CEO of the Chinese search engine giant, has explained why the company is entering the car-building industry.


Baidu hopes to bring advanced smart driving technology to the market in a timely manner by building its own cars, Li said in a letter to employees released after Baidu’s fourth-quarter earnings report.


The newly formed car company will be geared toward the passenger car market, allowing users to buy more sophisticated smart electric cars, Li said, adding that extreme innovation requires end-to-end integration and a fast and robust feedback mechanism.


Baidu announced on January 11 the formation of an automotive company that will target the passenger car market and position itself as a high-end smart electric vehicle.


The newly formed company will focus on the entire industry chain of smart car design and development, manufacturing, and sales and service.


Li said today, “This is an era of re-crowning technology innovation. We love this era, so let’s tiptoe in the deep ravine of technology and look a little further.”


He also mentioned plans for Robotaxi, saying, “The iteration of smart driving technology is accelerating. With each new generation, the cost drops by about 30%-50%.”


“When the cost drops to a threshold, it will trigger a scale operation of Robotaxi; on the other hand, the vehicle-road collaboration will greatly improve the safety of unmanned vehicles, making large-scale commercialization of driverless vehicles possible,” Li said.


Baidu Apollo, an open platform for autonomous driving developed by Baidu, is applied on Robotaxi, Baidu’s self-driving cab fleet.


As of January 27, Baidu Apollo is being tested on driverless open roads in Beijing, Changsha in China, and California in the US.


In January 2021, the Weimar W6, equipped with Baidu’s AVP autonomous vehicle parking solution, rolled out of mass production. Currently, Baidu has signed strategic partnerships with 10 Chinese and global automakers to provide intelligent automotive services such as high precision mapping, autonomous parking, and pilot-assisted driving.


According to Baidu’s financial report for the fourth quarter of 2020, Baidu achieved revenue of RMB 30.3 billion and net profit attributable to Baidu (non-GAAP) reached RMB 6.9 billion. in 2020, Baidu’s total revenue was RMB 107.1 billion.


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(Source: Baidu)