(Photo: Baidu)

Baidu, one of China's largest internet search companies, is looking into the possibility of building an autonomous electric car, according to a Bloomberg report. The news agency cites Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li as saying the company is working with automakers on the project. He declined to name these car companies.

If confirmed, Baidu would join other non-traditional automotive companies such as Google and Apple, in looking to play a bigger role in the auto industry and, possibly, building a car.

China’s Information Technology and Industry Minister Miao Wei said last week that he would encourage companies outside the traditional car industry to seek tie-ups with existing automakers, Bloomberg said. Such alliances would help spur innovation and increased competition in the world's biggest car market.

Bloomberg said Leshi Internet Information & Technology (Beijing) Co., a maker of Web-enabled TVs, also plans to invest huge amounts of money in the development of a connected electric car.

The Chinese government, in efforts to combat air pollution in major cities, has announced large incentives to boost domestic electric vehicle production.