Chinese giant Baidu is considering the possibility of producing electric vehicles and is discussing the possibility with automakers, three people familiar with the matter said.
The search company, which also develops autonomous driving technologies and internet connectivity infrastructure, is considering contract manufacturing or a majority-owned joint venture with automakers, one person said.
The initiative will be one step ahead of its online competitors like Tencent, Amazon and Alphabet, which have also developed automotive technology or invested in smart car startups.
Baidu has held preliminary talks – without making a decision – with automakers including FAW Group’s Geely, Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) and Hongqi about a possible venture, sources said.
Baidu declined to comment. The GAC has stated that it has a strategic partnership with Baidu and that any future cooperation is negotiable. Geely said it is not familiar with the matter. FAW did not respond to a request for comment.
Baidu created the Apollo autonomous steering unit in 2017. The division primarily provides artificial intelligence-based technologies and works with automakers such as Geely, Volkswagen, Toyota Motor and Ford.