Ford and Baidu in strategic partnership for China market

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 28 Jun 2018


Ford Motor (China) and Baidu are to jointly explore strategic collaborations across a variety of domains including connectivity and digital services, artificial intelligence and digital marketing, in the China market.

Yesterday, Peter Fleet, Ford group vice-president and president of Ford Asia Pacific and Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu, met at Baidu’s headquarters in Beijing to sign a letter of intent between the two companies. Robert Hou, director of mobility platforms and products, Ford Asia Pacific and Tan Su, general manager of Baidu’s internet of vehicles division, signed the strategic cooperation agreement on behalf of the two companies.

“Collaborating with leading technology companies such as Baidu supports our vision to become the world’s most trusted mobility company by leveraging new opportunities to build a sustainable mobility ecosystem. As part of our ‘In China, For China’ strategy, we look forward to working closely to offer smart products and solutions that can make people’s lives easier and more enjoyable,” said Peter Fleet.

The two companies will work together to collaborate on new in-vehicle infotainment systems and digital services based on Baidu’s DuerOS conversational AI platform, with features such as voice recognition, natural language understanding and image recognition in order to deliver a simple and personalised user experience for Ford vehicle owners in China.

Leveraging AI technology and a vast ecosystem of information and services, the DuerOS system enables vehicle owners to command and communicate with their vehicles using natural language and easily access information and services that they need in daily life.

Ford and Baidu are looking to establish a joint connectivity lab to investigate innovation opportunities across their automotive and mobility businesses in China. Both companies are dedicated to developing new cloud-based AI solutions to enrich the user experience in-vehicle and through other customer touchpoints.

The two companies will also explore opportunities in cloud computing, such as integration with Transportation Mobility Cloud (TMC), the open cloud-based platform being developed by Autonomic, a subsidiary of Ford Smart Mobility, that provides transportation services such as vehicle connectivity for multiple players in the transportation ecosystem.

In addition, Ford and Baidu will leverage both parties’ areas of expertise to investigate technologies and big data to explore business opportunities related to targeted digital marketing. This would enable Ford to more precisely understand Chinese consumer behaviors and preferences and develop offerings to meet their needs.

"Baidu and Ford share the vision of using technology to build the future of driving," said Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu. “Together, with Baidu's leading-edge AI technology and Ford's advanced engineering expertise, we will transform the mobility ecosystem and create the next-generation in-vehicle experience for consumers."

This new LOI further builds on the existing partnership between the two companies. In July last year, Ford joined Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving open platform as a founding member. The expanded relationship includes more areas of collaboration and lays the foundation for future growth and innovation for both companies.