Jidu Auto, an intelligent electric vehicle joint venture between China’s searching engine giant Baidu and Chinese automaker Geely, will showcase the concept version of its first model at the 2022 Beijing Auto Show, and deliveries may start in 2023, Xia Yiping, CEO of the new venture, said at a media conference.
On March 2, 2021, the new company was formally registered with business scope covering the entire industrial chain, from vehicle design to research and development, as well as manufacturing, sales and service.
In the past three months, Jidu was busy with various tasks. The first one was team building. The team has been expanded from several people at the beginning of March to over 200 staff, covering product development, engineering, software and operation.
Meanwhile, the company also decided its product design, the interior and exterior style with the help of Geely and Baidu. All of the preparation work will lay a solid foundation for future rapid progress, Mr. Xia said.
After so many cross-border players stepped up efforts in automotive field, it seems late for Jidu to tap into the industry. But Mr. Xia doesn’t think so. In his opinion, in the past 3-5 years, companies are striving to overcome difficulties in such hardware fields as batteries and electric motors, which, after several years’ development, have been standardized and even homogenized now. In the future, he added, competitiveness of players and products lies in products’ ecosystem, including intelligent driving, cockpit, operating system, high-definition map, and computing platform. In this case, by leveraging Baidu’s technologies, Jidu can be well positioned to compete in the market.
Then what kind of vehicles will the company offer? The executive described its products as robotic, emotional and futuristic. First of all, Jidu’s vehicles can provide more intelligent and innovative features for better user interaction and improved customized experience. Secondly, the vehicle should have the ability to communicate with users with emotions. Emotional vehicles will make users feel being cared for. And the Jidu vehicles should be as futuristic as possible to be distinct from vehicles of other companies. In October, the company’s chief design will reveal much more product details at a brand conference.
Given the fact that its numerous intelligent features will increase the cost, the price of Jidu’s first vehicle will be no less than RMB200,000 ($31,320). Its target customers will be young generations, mainly post-1990 ones, namely those born after 1990, who are supposedly more interested in new technologies. Besides, its product design has taken women users’ demands into consideration as women users account for a big portion of electric vehicle buyers.
Baidu will provide intelligent driving capabilities to power Jidu’s vehicles, while Geely will contribute its expertise in automobile manufacturing. According to Mr. Xia, Jidu will not build its own factories and supply chain for its first model because Geely’s experience and advantages in manufacturing and supply chain will help Jidu overcome typical obstacles which new startups will encounter. But the company will probably build its own sales network.
Besides, Jidu will co-develop a L4 intelligent architecture with Geely, dubbed JET, which can integrate the advanced capabilities of Baidu’s Apollo with Geely’s platforms seamlessly to enable vehicles update rapidly in software and operation.
Currently, Jidu will spare no effort to accelerate the launching of its first vehicle. To fund its development, the company will start a new funding round in the third quarter of this year, the executive revealed.