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Eelectric vehicle maker Jidu recently raised heavy funding from Baidu and Geely to further develop ‘smart’ cars for 2023.
Jidu Auto, the electric vehicle arm of internet and AI firm Baidu, recently announced that it raised approximately $400 million in funding. The newly-generated funds came from a fresh Series A exercise bankrolled by Baidu, and Geely. The latter, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, serves as Baidu’s founding partner on the Jidu brand of cars, and also owns Volvo.
For the funding round, there were no participating external investors. Furthermore, Jidu did not disclose any additional details on the exercise – including its valuation.
Jidu Looks to Regular Additional Funding from Baidu, Others
Jidu looks to channel the fresh capital towards expediting its research and development, as well as the mass production process. The EV firm has a target of 2023 to begin rolling out automotive robot cars for public consumption. Meanwhile, in the meantime, Jidu is also working to ready its first concept robocar for exhibitive purposes at the Beijing auto show. The latter is an upcoming event slated to take place in April this year.
Jidu chief executive officer Xia Yiping previously touched on the company’s EV agenda in a media session back in April 2020. According to Yiping, Jidu is looking to raise a total of 50 billion yuan ($7.9 billion) to produce automotive vehicles. The development and manufacturing of said cars would occur over the next five years, with Baidu and other investors providing financing.
Jidu launched less than a year ago as Baidu’s latest attempt to turn its artificial intelligence expertise into vehicle manufacturing. As Yiping put it:
“It has only been 10 months since JIDU started its journey. With the support of cutting-edge AI technology combined with a high-quality vehicle platform and manufacturing process, Jidu’s efficient development of automotive robot has been proven – the brain, nerve system, and body of the Robocar are all under rapid development.”
So far, Jidu has advanced reasonably well in that regard. This is thanks largely to its strategy of deploying simulated prototype cars in developing its smart cockpit and autonomous driving systems. This is as opposed to the monotony of testing individual hardware parts in mass-produced vehicles. Despite this, some skeptics may still choose to question the tech viability of the electric vehicle startup.
EVs Are Gradually Becoming the Norm
In recent times electric vehicles have become more prevalent and continue to enjoy growing success across the globe. This is notably because of outspoken billionaire businessman Elon Musk, and his EV company Tesla continuing to champion its cause. In addition, there are increasing calls for most industries to go ‘greener’ and shun fossil fuels. As a result, other traditional automobile manufacturers are looking to leverage that New World Order and roll out electric vehicles. They include heavyweights such as BMW, Toyota, and Mercedes Benz.
Technology companies around the world are now also beginning to accept the mantle by taking it one step further. These tech platforms aim to produce automotive or ‘smart’ cars that will be environmentally friendly and ergonomically viable. Such companies include Sony, Xiaomi Corp, LG Electronics, Foxconn, and even Apple Inc.