BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s search engine giant Baidu and automaker Geely have hired Mobike co-founder and former chief technology officer Xia Yiping as CEO of their new electric vehicle venture, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
Baidu last month announced it would set up a company with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to leverage its intelligent driving capabilities and Geely’s car manufacturing expertise.
On Thursday, Baidu CEO Robin Li said they had appointed a CEO for the venture, without disclosing the name. He also said they had decided on a brand and would try to launch a new EV model in around three years.
The sources declined to be named as the information was not yet public. Baidu declined to provide immediate comment while a Geely spokesman said he was not familiar with the appointment. Xia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Xia served as Mobike’s chief technology officer until the company was acquired by food delivery giant Meituan in 2018. Prior to Mobike, he worked at Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Mobike and its then chief competitor Ofo were the pioneers of China’s bike-sharing boom, which saw them attract hundreds of millions in investment and deploy millions of bicycles across China and abroad before the sector experienced a bust between 2017 to 2018.
China’s bike-sharing scene is currently dominated by Meituan, Ant Group-backed Hellobike and Didi Chuxing’s Qingju.
Baidu’s U.S.-listed shares have more than doubled in price since December, when Reuters first reported Baidu’s intention to produce its own EVs.
(Reporting by Yilei Sun and Yingzhi Yang in Beijing, Brenda Goh in Shanghai; editing by Jason Neely)