Volvo Cars announced Thursday (November 1) that it reached an agreement with Baidu, the Chinese internet search provider, to jointly develop electric and fully autonomous drive-compatible cars.
In a press release, Volvo said the aim is to mass-produce the vehicles in China, which it said is the largest car market in the world. “With Baidu we take a big step forward in commercialising our autonomous compatible cars, built on Volvo’s industry-leading safety technology,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars in the press release. “There is a strong development in autonomous drive in China, where Baidu is a leading player, and the market there offers huge opportunities for us as the supplier of choice for autonomous fleets.” Volvo said the partnership will allow both companies to develop and sell the vehicles, underscoring Volvo’s aspirations to be the supplier of choice for mobility companies around the globe. Volvo and Baidu plan on pooling resources to prepare for mass manufacturing of fully electric and autonomous cars. Volvo said it chose Baidu as a partner because of its safety credentials, according to the press release.
Volvo noted that as per the collaboration agreement, Baidu will contribute with its Apollo autonomous driving platform. Volvo will provide access to its expertise and advanced technologies of the car industry. Volvo noted that based on industry forecasts China is poised to become the largest market for self-driving cars in the world over the course of the next decades. IHS Markit, the market research firm, predicts that about 14.5 million autonomous cars could be sold in China by 2040. That’s with total global volume of roughly 33 million.
“Since its founding a century ago, Volvo has kept safety as its core mission, pushing safety development forward with significant innovations. We are very glad that Volvo Cars has established a strategic partnership with Baidu in the development of a fully autonomous car compatible with our autonomous driving platform Apollo. We look forward to working closely with Volvo to provide the world with the safest auto products for the benefit of humankind,” Baidu President Dr. Ya-Qin Zhang said in the same press release.
The announcement between Volvo and Baidu came in the same week that Ford and Baidu announced the start of a two-year joint self-driving vehicle test project, under which the two will further advance the development and on-road testing of self-driving cars in China. In a press release, the companies said the collaboration is part of Ford’s plan to promote and further advance autonomous vehicle technologies.