Baidu, a Chinese tech company, has said that its robotaxi business is close to becoming just as popular with locals in large cities as traditional ride-hailing services.
Baidu's self-driving taxis completed an average of more than 15 rides a day in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou during the third quarter, CEO Robin Li said on Tuesday. This is according to a FactSet transcript of the earnings call.
"Our data shows that the average number of rides per day for these new services is quite close to the average for traditional ride-hailing services," Li said. He did not share how many cars were in each local fleet.
According to the latest available municipal data, the average number of trips per active vehicle on ride-hailing apps in New York City was about 12 per day in September.
Baidu's robotaxis, branded Apollo Go, are currently only operational in certain suburban areas of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
The company did not say whether it could charge fares for its robotaxi rides in Guangzhou or Shanghai. However, it is likely that the company will be able to charge fares for these rides, as they are becoming increasingly popular in both cities.
Baidu was approved by Beijing city to start charging fares for robotaxi rides in Yizhuang district about 12 months ago. Yizhuang is located about half an hour from the center of Beijing.
Although these rides still require a human staff member to sit in the car, they are still enjoyable for guests.
Baidu has announced that it has received approval from local Beijing authorities to test 10 robotaxis without any human staff in the front row. This marks a significant milestone for the company's autonomous driving ambitions.
Pony.ai, a start-up that also operates a robotaxi business, said it obtained similar approval to that of Waymo.
UBS has released a report suggesting that the self-driving car market in China could be worth $100 billion. The report names a number of stocks that could benefit from this growth.
Strategist says Chinese tech stocks, like Alibaba, are a clear buy right now. They are incredibly cheap and offer a great opportunity for investors.
Baidu operates robotaxis in many cities in China and can charge for fares in at least seven of them, according to the company.
Total robotaxi trips increased by more than 300% in the third quarter, reaching more than 474,000 rides. This represents a significant increase from the same period last year. The company attributes this growth to its continued investment in technology and expansion into new markets.
When asked about when Apollo Go would become profitable, the company said it believed the robotaxi would eventually be cheaper than current ride-hailing services. They added that the impact of Apollo Go on Baidu’s overall profit and loss and cash flow is “manageable.”
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