October 20, 2020

Chinese Startup Xpeng Shows Off New Flying Vehicle At Beijing Auto Show

KEY POINTS

  • The flying electric car can carry two people and levitate from 5-25 m
  • It was not made clear when the car will hit the market
  • Alibaba-backed Xpeng went public on the New York Stock Exchange in Aug

Xpeng, an Alibaba-backed electric vehicle startup based in China that is developing a series of electric flying vehicles, unveled its first prototype at the Beijing Auto Show on Saturday.

The vehicle, named Kiwigogo, can carry two passengers and levitate at least 5 meters and up to 25 meters, the South China Morning Post reported. It looks like a drone and is installed with eight turbofans. Kiwigogo was developed by Xpeng Heitech, a tech unit of Xpeng (NYSE: XPEV).

The flying car is still in its concept phase and there is little clarity as to when it will hit the market.

“Xpeng’s efforts in the electric air-enabled mobility space will remain focused on R&D and experimental designs at present. The company will evaluate prospects in the space in detail before proceeding with any substantial investment in this area,” the Guangzhou-based company said.

Xpeng has significant funds to spend on R&D after its successful IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in August, when the company raised over $1.5 billion. This was the Chinese company’s debut at the Beijing Auto Show, South China Morning Post reported.

This is not the first flying car, however. Earlier this month, Hangzhou-based Geely Automobile Group, owner of Volvo Cars, launched an all-electric flying vehicle called the X-Chimera 25. It is a 25-kg vehicle and has a towing capacity of 6 kg with a flying range of 300-400 km.

Xpeng, majorly an electric vehicle company, has not shied away from branching out and investing in other fields in the hope of improving its core products. Other auto companies have made similar R&D investments, like Japanese company Honda Motor’s humanoid “Asimo,” or Toyota’s bot released in 2017.

Hyundai announced it will begin mass-producing its S-A1 electric Urban Air Mobility conceptfor Uber, moving the idea of aerial robo-taxis closer to reality Hyundai announced it will begin mass-producing its S-A1 electric Urban Air Mobility conceptfor Uber, moving the idea of aerial robo-taxis closer to reality Photo: AFP / Robyn Beck

The aerial taxi or the flying car market has been a novel area of investment among startups even though it is still in development stage. Corporate and private investors have sunk over $2.3 billion in over 100 aerial startups, Hindustan Times reported quoting PitchBook. Major automakers like Hyundai, Toyota, Daimler, Volkswagen and others already have a strategy in place to corner a share of this pie.

Analysts have said aerial taxis could be a common sight by 2040 and the niche market could reach $1.4 trillion to $2.9 trillion. The only roadblocks on the way are safety and design, Derya Aksaray of the University of Minnesota told The New York Times.

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