Volvo cars have extended a hand of collaboration towards leading Chinese internet search provider Baidu to jointly develop electric and fully autonomous drive-compatible cars with the aim of mass producing them for China.

This partnership has made Volvo the first foreign maker to collaborate this closely with Baidu to jointly develop customised autonomous driving cars. The partnership will allow both companies to develop and sell these vehicles to potential Chinese customers, underlining the Swedish company’s aspirations to be the supplier of choice for mobile companies globally.

The agreement between the two companies calls for sharing of resources to take the next step and prepare for mass manufacturing of fully electric and autonomous cars. Based on the collaboration agreement, Baidu will contribute to its Apollo autonomous driving platform. Volvo will provide access to its expertise and advanced technologies of the car industry.

“With Baidu, we take a big step forward in commercialising our autonomous compatible cars, built on Volvo’s industry-leading safety technology,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “There is a strong development in the autonomous drive in China, where Baidu is a leading player, and the market there offers huge opportunities for us as the supplier of choice for autonomous fleets.”

“Since its founding a century ago, Volvo has kept safety as its core mission, pushing safety development forward with significant innovations. We are very glad that Volvo Cars has established a strategic partnership with Baidu in the development of a fully autonomous car compatible with our autonomous driving platform Apollo. We look forward to working closely with Volvo to provide the world with the safest auto products for the benefit of humankind.” Said Dr Ya-Qin Zhang, President of Baidu.

The Baidu agreement serves as a further proof point for its autonomous driving ambitions. Volvo Cars aims to become a global and diversified mobility service provider and sees the autonomous drive as a key growth area as part of this strategy. By the middle of the next decade, it expects to generate one-third of all annual sales from autonomous cars.