Chinese search engine and AI company Baidu has hired Xia Yiping, the co-founder of bike-sharing firm Mobike to be the chief executive of its new electric car company, operating in tandem with automobile manufacturer Geely, according to reports.
Baidu CEO Robin Li said during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call on Thursday that they had appointed a CEO for the new company without disclosing a name, and will aim to launch a new EV model in around three years.
In early January, Baidu announced a strategic partnership with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group aimed at manufacturing electric vehicles. As part of a deal to set up an intelligent EV company, Baidu will provide in-vehicle software, while Geely will offer up its engineering capabilities, with the new passenger automobile to be produced at Geely’s factories.
Baidu declined to comment when contacted by Pandaily. Reuters first reported the appointment and CNBC also confirmed the news.
Xia previously worked at Fiat Chrysler’s Asia-Pacific arm and at Ford, where he was responsible for localizing and implementing the company’s in-vehicle communications and entertainment system SYNC across China.
In 2015, Xia co-founded Mobike and served as the company’s chief technology officer during a period in which the company expanded to 19 countries globally. Mobike was eventually acquired by Chinese food delivery giant Meituan in 2018 for $2.7 billion, following a downward spiral within China’s once-booming bike-sharing market.
Baidu’s fourth quarter earnings for 2020 beat expectations, with a 52% year-on-year increase in non-marketing revenue — which includes its cloud and autonomous driving business.
In early February, Baidu was reported to be on a hiring spree for the new EV company, bringing in directors, deputy directors and senior managers for marketing and public relations positions in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai.
A spokesperson from Baidu previously told Pandaily that the new EV company is in the process of being established, and all aspects are advancing smoothly.
The next-generation vehicles are expected to be sold under a new brand and loaded with Baidu’s full set of internet connectivity infrastructures, including the autonomous driving platform Apollo, voice assistance platform DuerOS and Baidu Maps.