XPeng Aeroht, a flying car company owned by XPeng, announced on January 30 that the self-developed flying car XPeng X2 has obtained a special flight permit issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). It is also the first manned electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) product in China to obtain this permit.
The XPeng X2 is a two-person flying vehicle independently developed and produced by XPeng Aeroht. The whole fuselage is made of carbon fiber material and appears like a droplet of water, giving the vehicle better aerodynamic performance. It made its first successful flight in June 2021, and more than 3,000 test flights have been carried out since then. Tests have included the testing and verifying of the vehicle’s structure, power, flight controls, automatic driving capabilities and data monitoring. Last October, it completed its maiden overseas public flight in Dubai.
After obtaining the licensed flight certificate, XPeng Aeroht said that it will continue to carry out a series of manned driving tests to accumulate data and experience for the company’s subsequent mass-production products.
In 2020, XPeng Aeroht, which bears XPeng founder He Xiaopeng’s dream of flying cars, was formally established. In October 2021, it completed the A round of financing worth over $500 million, with a pre-investment valuation of $1 billion, setting a financing record in the field of flying cars in Asia.
XPeng Aeroht has been researching and developing flying cars for many years and its products have so far developed to the sixth generation. For safety reasons, the final style is changed from a horizontal twin-rotor configuration to distributed multi-rotor configuration, and the flight folding structure has also been changed. The arms and blades have been made shorter, the total length and width of the flying car in its flying state have also been made narrower, and the size limit of its take-off and landing site has also been reduced. However, He Xiaopeng said that even though the size has been made smaller, the vehicle still needs just less than half of the size of a basketball court to spread its wings.
He Xiaopeng has speculated on the development of the industry, saying, “After 2024, a small number of cars will fly to the sky, and in 2030, they will occupy the sky on a larger scale.” But since the beginning of this year, the shutdown of Kitty Hawk, the flying car startup backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, has eased the excitement in the field.
As a vehicle of three-dimensional intelligent transportation, flying cars may be able to solve traffic congestion and inefficient travel, but this remains to be seen outside of theory. Although the prospect is bright and the potential is huge, the flying car is still in a very early stage of development, and it is taking a long time to solve many problems that have arisen along the way.
In terms of technology, flying cars have problems like insufficient battery energy, insufficient fuselage materials, and inaccurate automatic driving. It takes a long time and a lot of experience to gradually improve relevant laws, a lack of supervision systems, and the formulation of routes and stations.