Tesla has switched from Tencent Maps to Baidu Maps as its provider of in-car mapping data services in China, the US-based electric vehicle (EV) company announced Friday on its official Weibo account.
Baidu, the company behind China’s largest search engine, will provide map display, real-time traffic conditions, point of interest searches, and other map data services in Tesla vehicles through Baidu’s proprietary scalable vector graphics (SVG) application, according to the press statement.
Baidu’s data solution will offer highly accurate maps that support zooming without image quality loss, making it easier for car owners to anticipate road conditions, the company told 36Kr.
Previous reports have indicated that Baidu Maps will replace digital mapping service provider Navinfo as Tesla’s map data provider. However, Baidu told 36Kr that their partnership with Tesla was mostly regarding user interface changes and replacing Tencent Maps. Navinfo will continue offering its services to Tesla as a partner, they said.
Tencent-backed Navinfo, which also powers Tencent Maps, has been partnering with Tesla on map data solutions since 2014. Tencent also became a Tesla shareholder in 2017 after buying a 5% stake in the EV maker.
One reason Tesla switched to Baidu for map solutions is the Chinese internet giant’s rich resource of high-definition maps. Such maps have become pivotal for the development of autonomous driving, local financial media outlet 21jingji.com reported.
A source cited in 21jingji.com’s report also disclosed that this move may empower Tesla to launch its fully autonomous driving service in mainland China in the future.
As an early entrant in the autonomous driving sector, Baidu has been striving to commercialize its self-driving technology since 2013. So far, it received 120 licenses for autonomous driving tests with passengers and conducted over 3 billion kilometers of road tests in 23 Chinese cities.
According to Baidu, Baidu Maps handles up to 80 billion location-based service queries per day and has over 300 million monthly active users.
36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company.