Baidu’s electric vehicle (EV) project Jidu Auto announced on Wednesday that it has raised nearly $400 million in Series A as the Chinese search engine giant accelerates the development of EVs with self-driving capabilities.

Why it matters: Jidu will use the proceeds on research and development as the company aims to unveil a concept car in April later this year and release its first production model in 2023, according to the announcement.

Details: Baidu and its manufacturing partner Geely both raised their stakes in Jidu by jointly investing almost $400 million in the venture. The two companies didn’t reveal the sharing ratio. 

Context: Baidu and Geely linked up last January with a deal that would allow the tech giant to make its own consumer EVs with autonomous driving capabilities.

  • The result was the establishment of the RMB 2 billion ($316 million) joint venture Jidu Auto two months later, with Baidu and Geely holding 55% and 45% of the total shares, respectively, according to business research platform Tianyancha (in Chinese).
  • Baidu has operated an autonomous driving unit testing its vehicles in China and the US since 2015. It began commercial autonomous ride-hailing services for passengers in Beijing in November last year, and plans to expand the service to 65 domestic cities by 2025.  
  • Early last year, Geely also launched its own premium EV brand Zeekr, which raised $500 million a few months later from a group of investors, including China’s biggest battery maker CATL and streaming giant Bilibili.
  • Geely reportedly plans to acquire Alibaba-backed smartphone maker Meizu as part of its long-term electric mobility vision.

Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen