Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, whose founder and CEO Richard Liu is the subject of a rape investigation in the U.S., this month launched its first large-scale unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at Pucheng airport, Shaanxi province. The UAV will be used for the company's cargo deliveries.
The UAV, known as the JDY-800, has a wing-span of 10 metres. It can cruise at altitudes of 3,000 metres at speeds of over 200 km/h. The JDY-800 can carry a load of up to 840 kilogrammes.
JD.com’s plan to develop its own UAV was unveiled in June and the JDY-800 has since gone through five months of manufacturing, assembling and testing.
In another development, the earlier mentioned rape allegations against Mr Liu, could delay JD.com’s plans to launch an online store in the U.S. with the help of Google towards the end of this year.
Own centres for shipping orders
The JD.com-Google partnership, which was first announced in June, would allow the Chinese retailer to sell directly to U.S. customers, while Google will handle payments and back-room order processing. JD.com would also have its own centres for shipping orders.
Although a recent Washington Post report quoted Liu's lawyers as saying that charges against him are "highly unlikely," the launch of the online store with Google at a time when the rape case is still pending, seems equally unlikely.
Meanwhile, the rape allegations as well as a slowdown in the Chinese economy, trade tensions with the U.S. and weak profits, have caused a steady decline of JD.com’s stock over the course of 2018 and the company has missed earnings estimates in three of its last four quarterly reports.
Underperforming its peers
Analysts point out that JD.com isn't the only Chinese stock to take a dive in 2018. Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu are other big-name Chinese companies that have fallen by double digits in 2018. However, JD.com has underperformed all of those peers: a sign of the unique challenges the company faces.
Although falling profits are certainly a concern, analysts however predict that the company should return to profit growth as investments in the company's infrastructure - including its logistics and fulfillment network and new technologies - will eventually moderate and moves to open up its logistics network to third-party shippers begin to pay off.
Nol van Fenema