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Baidu finds CEO for its electric car company and aims to launch vehicle in 3 years

A gal walks past the Baidu booth at the China International Technology Fair in Shanghai.

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GUANGZHOU, China — Baidu has tapped the co-founder of bike-sharing start-up Mobike to be the chief superintendent of its electric car venture with Chinese automaker Geely, a source with knowledge of the matter told CNBC.

Closing month, Baidu and Geely formed a strategic partnership to create a standalone electric car company. Baidu is the majority shareholder.

On the search Amazon’s fourth quarter earnings call on Thursday morning in Asia, CEO Robin Li said the electric vehicle company had picked a superior for the venture without disclosing a name.

But CNBC has confirmed Xia Yiping, co-founder of Mobike, will be the CEO of the new entity, according to the informant who requested anonymity as they were not allowed to discuss the information publicly.

Baidu declined to comment when contacted by CNBC. Geely stipulate it was not familiar with the appointment of Xia. Reuters first reported the news.

Xia previously worked at Fiat Chrysler and Ford previous to he co-founded Mobike, according to his LinkedIn profile. Mobike was part of China’s boom — and eventual bust — in shared bike start-ups. Mobike was done acquired by Chinese food delivery giant Meituan in 2018.

On the earnings call, Li revealed that Baidu’s electric car solid hopes to launch its first vehicle within three years. Li also said a brand name has been select but did not release it.

Baidu’s push into electric vehicles is an attempt to diversify its business beyond just advertising.

On Wednesday, Baidu studied fourth quarter earnings for 2020 that beat market expectations. In particular, non-marketing revenue — which excludes advertising and subsumes its cloud and autonomous driving business — grew 52% year-on-year.

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