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A Look at Baidu’s Location Advantage in the Self-Driving Market

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Self-driving awareness is above 80% in China

Baidu’s (BIDU) location in Asia could give it an edge over Western rivals such as Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Waymo and Uber in the autonomous driving market. Interest in self-driving vehicles is strong in Asia, and this could be a boon for Baidu’s autonomous driving efforts.

According to eMarketer, awareness of self-driving cars is above 80% in several Asia-Pacific markets. An August 2017 survey by Rakuten AIP showed that only 2% of Internet users in China (MCHI) have never heard of autonomous cars. In contrast, about 11% of Internet users in the US (SPY) have never heard of autonomous cars.

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Over 80% surveyed in China seek a self-driving ride

In addition to awareness, interest in self-driving cars is also high in Asian markets such as China, India (INDA), and Singapore. In China, 82% of those surveyed said they would like to ride in a self-driving car. India, Singapore, and Japan (EWJ) recorded interest in self-driving cars at 85%, 59%, and 43%, respectively, in the survey.

A larger percentage of drivers in China than in the US are willing to replace their existing car brands for an improved autonomous driving experience.

Baidu’s self-driving schedule

Baidu (BIDU) wants to have a fully autonomous bus on the road by 2018, and it would like to follow that with a mass-market fully autonomous car by 2021. Baidu’s schedule for self-driving vehicle releases appears to put it ahead of domestic rivals such as Alibaba (BABA) and JD.com (JD), which are also underway with their own autonomous driving programs.

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