Nasdaq-traded shares in China Internet heavyweight Baidu soared by 15.6% to a nearly two and a half year high of $240.25 today on a report that the company plans to team up with automaker Geely Automobile Holdings and enter the electric vehicle business. Baidu is best known for its search engine but is also a China leader in autonomous driving systems.   

Shares in Geely, one of China’s largest home-grown passenger car brands, rocketed 19.6% in Hong Kong on Friday on the report to close at a record high of HK$33.25.  Geely’s billionaire chairman Li Shufu also chairs Volvo Car Group. 

Citing unnamed officials, Reuters said on Thursday that Beijing-headquartered Baidu plans to form a company to make smart electric vehicles with manufacturing to be carried out at plants owned by automaker Geely. (See report here.)

Baidu climbed on a day in which shares in gravity-defining Telsa rose by 7.8% to an all-time high of $880.02.

The global electric vehicle market is expected to grow by 41% annually between 2020 and 2027 from 2.2 million units in 2019, according to a report by Precedence Research. China is the world’s largest auto market, its economy has recovered from the worst of COVD-19 earlier this year, and shares in China automakers targeting the small-but-growing EV segment have soared this year, among them U.S.-listed Li Auto, XPeng and Nio. Nio climbed by 8.6% today to a record $58.92 ahead of an expected product launch tomorrow. Nio’s gain valued the Shanghai-headquartered company at $92 billion; by way of comparison, GM was worth $61 billion and Ford $36 billion at the end of stock trading today.

Not to be left out of the stock and wealth-creation frenzy, shares in Warren Buffett-backed BYD, one of China’s earliest EV makers, rose to 2% in Hong Kong on Friday to a record HK$240.20. That gave BYD’s chairman Wang Chuanfu a fortune worth nearly $19 billion. Nio’s chairman William Li is worth $8 billion, XPeng’s chairman He Xiaopeng nearly $9 billion, and Li Auto’s chairman Li Xiang $6 billion. Geely’s Li is China’s wealthiest auto billionaire with a fortune worth nearly $24 billion, making him the world’s 68th richest man, according to the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List.

Baidu CEO Robin Li’s fortune, combined with his wife Melissa Ma, was worth $17 billion on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List today. China is home to the world’s largest number of billionaires after the United States.

See related story here:

In a Year of Surprises, China’s Bottled Water King Surpassed Jack Ma as Its Richest Person

No Frog in a Well: Alibaba-Backed XPeng Founder Talks About Entrepreneurism, EVs


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