Baidu to produce intelligent cars in partnership with Geely
Good match with Baidu's technology advantages, but won't necessarily succeed: experts
Published: Jan 11, 2021 06:53 PM

Baidu's autonomous driving solution on display at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen on Tuesday Photo: Li Qiaoyi/GT

Domestic technology giant Baidu Inc announced on Monday that it will establish an intelligent car company in partnership with the automaker Geely, which sparked interest and skepticism among Chinese netizens and experts. Some questioned the companies' plans after previous failures, while others said the new partnership is a good match.

According to a statement from Baidu, it will be in charge of design, research and development, production and sales. Baidu said that it will make use of its "artificial intelligence and technology DNA", while banking on its Apollo autonomous driving systems.

The new company will operate independently, Baidu said, although it will empower the new company with all Baidu's leading technologies including Baidu Map and the Baidu IOV OS.

Baidu and Geely announced they will work closely in the production of intelligent cars based on Geely's recent Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) research, the world's first open-source electric vehicle platform.

Baidu in recent years has abandoned a number of businesses including tourism and e-commerce, and has been accused of lagging behind other Chinese internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent.

On China's leading social platform Weibo, many expressed doubt as to whether Baidu will be successful in tapping smart car industry. 

One netizen said that Baidu wouldn't be in the situation it is now, if it had the management and ability to complete such tasks as launching intelligent cars. Another doubted Baidu's ability to win in the vehicle sector, stating that it "failed in many projects".

However, independent tech analyst Liu Dingding said that he is optimistic about the overall prospects of Baidu's foray to intelligent cars.

"Electric cars have received policy and market support. Baidu has advantages in its massive volume of user data, which may be applied in self-driving technologies. For Geely, it has what I think is China's best electric vehicle manufacturing platform, which will help them launch intelligent cars," Liu told the Global Times on Monday.

Many electric vehicle companies have failed, and it remains to be seen whether Baidu will succeed this time, said Liu. He predicted that Baidu will focus on making self-driving cars in the long term.

Independent car analyst Feng Shiming told the Global Times that he is "cautiously optimistic" about Baidu's partnership with Geely, because Baidu's technology base is one of the best in China, in terms of big data or live map surveys. 

"Baidu and Geely are leading players in self-driving technologies and car production. Their cooperation should come to fruition," he said. 

Feng said that it's unclear if Baidu will stand out in the business. He questioned whether Baidu's corporate culture would sustain healthy and stable innovation with continued investment. It's also unclear if Baidu can strike a balance between data collection and privacy protection, particularly as Baidu has aroused controversy before over its advertising ethics.