With the race to develop a flying car now in full swing, all eyes are now on who will take off first.
Guangzhou-based XPeng AeroHT, a subsidiary of XPeng, a Chinese EV maker, aims to be the first mover with its plan to launch pre-orders of its flying car starting in the fourth quarter of this year.
“Our product is a flying car, which is primarily a car, but also takes to the sky when needed,” said Tan Wang, co-founder and chief designer of XPeng AeroHT in a recent email interview with Korea JoongAng Daily.
“Most of the products from other countries were mainly in the form of electric vertical lift and landing [eVTOL] aircraft that lack ground transportation capability.”
A Ferrari-looking supercar with eight propellers caught the attention of the public at last month’s CES 2024 trade show in Las Vegas.
The model on display was neither fully a car nor a helicopter, but a flying car, according to XPeng AeroHT, which says it can drive both on land and in the sky.
XPeng AeroHT has introduced various electric aircraft including X1 and X2. With the success of the X2 in its demonstration flight in July 2021, it has completed more than 10,000 flight tests.
Founded in 2014, the flying car developer has raised $500 million in Series A funding from eight investors, including GGV Capital and Sequoia Capital.
Q. Briefly introduce XPeng AeroHT’s flying car product. How far has the development process reached so far?
A. Completing all major research and development tests [R&D] Validation phase, our modular flying machine has now entered the phase of preparation for mass production. Although the final design is still in development, it already boasts a futuristic, cyber-mechanical aesthetic, characterized by sharp lines and sleek surfaces, reminiscent of a “lunar exploration vehicle.”
The flying car is designed for flying, on-road and off-road driving. It not only meets users’ daily needs for land travel, but also evolves the travel experience. XPeng AeroHT will continue to explore potential applications in public utilities for this innovative product.
XPeng AeroHT is excited to announce that our flying car will become available for pre-order in the fourth quarter and we aim to deliver it to individual users by the fourth quarter of 2025.
Can you give us more details about your flying car?
The flying car can accommodate four to five passengers, and the extended-range electric motor provides multiple recharges for the air module. The three-axle, six-wheel configuration enables six-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering.
It is a fully electric piloted aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and low altitude flight. The electric propulsion system meets the single-point fail-safe requirements. The car will support both manual and automatic driving modes, providing an accessible flying experience.
The 270-degree panoramic two-person cockpit offers a wide field of view.
There were several flying cars on display at CES 2024 including Supernal’s S-A2. Who is your biggest competitor and what is your main difference compared to your peers?
The flying car market is vast and has room for various players. XPeng AeroHT’s unique product positioning, features and target markets set us apart from others.
We respect the achievements these companies have made in the field of eVTOL. Be it eVTOL, flying car or the market for urban air travel, it is currently a blue ocean market with enough space to accommodate various participants.
XPeng AeroHT will focus on its unique road product map and realize the dream of “giving wings to cars”. This means we are determined to create the safest, most intelligent electric flying cars for customers and provide a better, more efficient and liberating travel experience.
We believe the biggest difference lies in the fact that our product is a flying car, which is primarily a car, but can also take to the sky when needed. Basically, most of the products previously shown at CES were mainly in the form of eVTOLs, without the capability for ground transportation.
Has XPeng AeroHT already created the contract for the flying car?
Recently, Nanhu Institute of Transportation Science placed an order for 100 units with us. These will be used for comprehensive management of various transport sectors such as roads and waterways, as well as providing flight camp experiences and inter-station transport links.
Do you have any business partnerships with any Korean companies or are you in talks?
Currently, we are in the R&D stage and do not have any partnership with Korean companies at the moment. But we will achieve our global strategic goals step by step, and we believe that at that time, Korean enterprises will also become our partners.
BY SARAH CHEA [[email protected]]