Baidu unveiled on July 21, 2022, the sixth generation of its self-driving electric car built for ride-healing rides – at a price that is almost 50% lower than for a model announced last year.
BEIJING – Chinese technology giant Baidu announced on Thursday that it has cut the price of its robotic taxi vehicles by almost half, lowering the cost of a new business.
The new vehicle, the Apollo RT6, is an electric car that costs 250,000 yuan (about $ 37,313) to produce – without relying on a third-party manufacturer, Baidu said. This price is 48% less than the production cost of 480,000 yuan announced last year for Apollo Moon, made in collaboration with state-owned BAIC Group’s electric car brand Arcfox.
Apollo RT6 will start operating on China’s roads in the second half of next year under Baidu’s self-propelled robot taxi business.
The company’s robotic taxi business, called Apollo Go, received Beijing’s approval in November to begin charging for suburban trips. However, a human employee must still be sitting in the car.
In April, municipal authorities eased restrictions on whether the employee had to sit in the driver’s seat, paving the way for eliminating the cost of a taxi driver completely. It is still unclear when the Chinese government will allow robot axes to charge fares for trips without human personnel in the vehicles.
Baidu said the company aims to produce 100,000 Apollo RT6 vehicles over an unspecified period of time.
“This massive cost reduction will enable us to distribute tens of thousands of [autonomous driving vehicles] all over China, “said Robin Li, co – founder and CEO of Baidu, in a statement.” We are moving towards a future where taking a robotic taxi will be half the cost of taking a taxi today. “
Apollo Go operates in 10 cities in China, with plans to reach 65 cities by 2025, and 100 cities by 2030, the company said.
In addition to Baidu, startup companies such as Pony.ai and WeRide are testing robotic taxi companies in China.
To expand in China, companies must test robotic axes and obtain licenses in each city they want to operate in, Elinor Leung, CEO of Asia Telecom and Internet Research at CLSA, told CNBC earlier this week.
Until cities recognize each other’s test results, robot taxi companies will have to raise more money to test more cars in different cities, she said.