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The launch of the ET7, came as rival Tesla started selling its China-made Model Y SUV (AFP)
The launch of the ET7, came as rival Tesla started selling its China-made Model Y SUV (AFP)

EV makers eye China: Tesla starts headhunting, Baidu announces launch

  • Tesla Inc is searching for a design director in China, part of efforts to open a full-function studio in Shanghai or Beijing and design electric cars tailored to Chinese consumer tastes
  • Baidu Inc said it will set up a company to partner with carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to make smart EVs

The fight to conquer the electric vehicle market in China intensifies with both Tesla and Baidu planning their launch soon.

Tesla Inc, which is planning to expand in China, is searching for a design director in the country, a Reuters report said. Meanwhile, China’s search engine giant Baidu Inc said it will set up a company to partner with carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to make smart electric vehicles.

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Tesla sources told Reuters it plans to open a full-function studio in Shanghai or Beijing for designing electric cars tailored to Chinese consumer taste.

The U.S. carmaker's human resources managers, as well as several headhunters, have been trawling the industry over the past four months, the sources said.

They are looking for "bi-cultural" candidates with 20 or more years of experience who are familiar with Chinese tastes and can bridge the gaps between China and the United States, they added.

However, the sources also revealed Tesla's plans for the design studio are not fully developed and will likely wait for more clarity on strained U.S.-China relations under a new U.S. president before making a final decision.

Elon Musk's interest in developing cars in China is part of a broader push by Tesla to boost the company's global sales volume well past the 500,000-vehicle-a-year mark, which it came just 450 short of hitting in 2020. He said, the company is confident it would be able to hit the market with "a very compelling $25,000 electric vehicle that's also fully autonomous".

Baidu plans to create an intelligent EV company

Baidu Inc. and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. are teaming up to make electric vehicles for the Chinese market, a Baidu statement said on Monday.

China’s internet search leader picked the fast-growing carmaker after discussions with potential partners including closely held WM Motor, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. and FAW Group, sources revealed earlier. It will control the venture with a majority stake.

The tie-up marks a significant expansion into auto-making for Baidu, which has for years touted its Apollo open-sourced platform to help manufacturers build autonomous driving and connectivity into their products.

Baidu, which has been developing autonomous driving technology and internet connectivity infrastructure, said the new EV company will count on Baidu’s intelligent driving capabilities and Geely’s car manufacturing expertise.

China is the world's biggest auto market, plus the largest for all-electric vehicles with sales volumes expected to reach roughly 1.5 million vehicles there this year, according to consultancy LMC Automotive. It is also Tesla's No.2 market after the United States.

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