Baidu’s robotaxi unit expects to turn profitable next year

Chinese tech company Baidu said Wednesday its Apollo Go robotaxi arm expects to turn profitable next year.

The projection comes as Elon Musk has emphasized his plans to build up Tesla’s robotaxi efforts amid a decline in revenue.

Baidu is one of the major players in China’s nascent robotaxi market and received permission from a Beijing city district to begin charging fares in November 2021.

While most of the cars still have a human staff worker inside for safety, the same Beijing district officially let Baidu and start-up Pony.ai charge fares for robotaxi rides with no staff in the vehicle in September 2023.

Apollo Go operated about 839,000 rides in the last three months of 2023, according to Baidu’s latest earnings report. The company is due to release quarterly results Thursday.

About 45% of the orders in the fourth quarter in Wuhan were fully driverless, up from 40% the prior quarter, the company said.

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