Baidu says its robotaxis have cornered 10% of the ride-sharing market


Chinese tech giant Baidu’s robotaxis have cornered about 10% of the ride-sharing market in a Beijing suburb, the company said on Tuesday.

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BEIJING — In less than two years, Chinese tech giant Baidu’s robotaxis have cornered about 10% of the ride-sharing market in a Beijing city suburb, the company said in an earnings call Tuesday.

Baidu shares traded in the United States fell 6.5% overnight to $137.69 each. Shares are down more than 7% for the year so far.

The Chinese company said it has more than 100 robotaxis operating in the suburbs, with each vehicle making more than 20 trips a day on average. Local rules require human personnel to be seated in the vehicle with passengers.

In Beijing, Baidu cannot yet operate its robotaxi business on downtown public roads. According to company information, the only part of Beijing where Baidu can charge for rides on public roads is in a suburb called Yizhuang.

The area is about a 30-minute drive south of the center of the Chinese capital. The area is home to many corporations, including the headquarters of e-commerce giant JD.com.

Baidu started offering free robotaxi rides in Yizhuang in October 2020 and received permission to collect fares in November 2021.

However, CNBC checks of the Baidu robotaxi app showed rides remained heavily subsidized even on Wednesday.

A half-hour ride from JD.com headquarters to a residential area in Yizhuang had a fare of 5.36 yuan (79 cents) – and a discount of 48.24 yuan.

A check of startup Pony.ai’s robotaxi app showed that the fare for the same route was fully subsidized. Pony.ai received approval to charge its robotaxis fares to Yizhuang around the same time as Baidu.

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Baidu’s robotaxi business, branded Apollo Go, operates in more than ten cities in China. Apollo Go can charge fares in seven of those cities, the company said.

In Tuesday’s earnings release, Baidu said it conducted 287,000 public robotaxi rides in the second quarter, up 46% from the first quarter.

Of that second-quarter total, robotaxi trips in Yizhuang accounted for more than 60%, according to CNBC’s calculations.


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