Jidu Auto to invest $7.7bn in production of smart cars

Baidu-Geely project aims to launch first electric vehicle in three years

Jidu Auto, the electric car venture between Baidu and Chinese automaker Geely, aims to invest 50bn yuan ($7.70bn, £5.5bn, €6.3bn) in the production of smart cars over the next five years.

Jidu's chief executive Xia Yiping told Reuters the company would aim to launch its first electric vehicle in three years but would strive to make that process quicker.

Its first model would look like a "robot" and would target young customers, Yiping said, adding that Jidu would look at market data before deciding on a final model.

"It will make you feel like it's a robot that can communicate with you with emotions," said Yiping, who joined Jidu from Chinese bike-sharing firm Mobike, a company he co-founded.

Jidu, which launched in January, plans to release a new model every year or 18 months after the first model is launched.

Yiping did not disclose a sales target but the company plans to hire 2,500 to 3,000 people over the next two to three years, including 400 to 500 software engineers.

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The company, which is based in Shanghai and Beijing, also plans to roll out its branding in the third quarter of 2021.

Jidu, which will use Geely's open-source electric-vehicle platform to develop cars, hopes to make vehicles in Hangzhou Bay in China's eastern city of Ningbo, where Geely has several plants. It initially plans to sell cars directly to customers, without using dealerships.

Baidu has a 55% stake in Jidu while Geely has a 45% stake. 

FURTHER READING: BMW wants quarter of sales in China to be EVs by 2025

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