Jidu, Baidu’s electric car brand, closes $400 million Series A funding round – TechCrunch

Once an industry with long development cycles, the automotive space is being disrupted by Chinese tech giants. One can hardly keep up with all the new brands of electric vehicles coming out of the country these days. Jidu, an electric car manufacturing company founded by Baidu and its Chinese auto partner Geely just a year ago, said on Wednesday it raised nearly $400 million in a Series A funding round.

The new injection, funded by Baidu and Geely, which owns Volvo, is a boost to the $300 million seed capital that Jidu closed last March. The product will speed up Jidu’s R&D and mass production process and allow it to showcase its first “robocar” concept – which it classifies as an automotive robot rather than a car – at the Beijing Auto Show in April. . The mass-produced version of the robocar will be launched in 2023.

Jidu chief executive Xia Yiping previously led Fiat Chrysler’s connected car unit in APAC and co-founded Mobike, the Chinese bike-sharing pioneer acquired by Meituan in 2018.

The speed at which Jidu has advanced is remarkable, but could easily attract skeptics who question the viability of his technology. The rapid cycle, the automaker explained, is due to its strategy of using a simulated car prototype to develop its smart cockpit and self-driving systems, rather than testing individual hardware parts in a mass-produced vehicle.

The automaker said that in as little as nine months it had “tested and proven” the safety and reliability of its Level 4 capabilities (autonomous driving without human interaction in most circumstances) for city roads and off-roads. highways.

The EV startup also emphasizes branding and fan community, something its competitor Nio is known for. In December, he started recruiting car enthusiasts to join his “Jidu Union” to experience cars at online and offline events.

In the future, Jidu will hire and train talents specializing in autonomous driving, smart cockpits, smart manufacturing and other related technologies.

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