China’s EV startup Xpeng ready to take off with flying license •

by Ana Lopez

Xpeng, a Chinese electric vehicle startup, is gearing up to launch its eVTOL into the air as it secures a major regulatory green light.

Skyowned by Xpeng and Xpeng founder He Xiaopeng, net obtained a special permit to fly from China’s Civil Aviation Administration, the country’s counterpart to the US Federal Aviation Administration. The authorization authorizes Aeroht’s X2 electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft to fly with a pilot under special conditions. With the permit, Aeroht says it will launch a series of manned flight tests to collect data for future mass production.

The X2, which Aeroht describes as a “flying car,” is a two-seat carbon fiber quadcopter with no wheels — though the company’s next-generation plane appears to be a sedan with wings, according to concept photos on its website.

For now, the X2 is designed for “future low-altitude urban flights and is perfect for short urban trips, such as sightseeing and medical transport,” says its product information. It can be operated manually or in an autonomous mode that automates takeoff, return and landing operations. The model has flown more than 3,000 tests since first flight in June 2021.

Aeroht is one of two ventures that grew out of the nine-year-old Xpeng and raised money independently. In October 2021, the airline raised more than $500 million in a Series A round led by IDG Capital, 5Y Capital and Xpeng itself. Do you remember the rideable robot pony for kids? That’s Xpeng’s other project, Xpeng Robotics, which raised a $100 million Series A round in July last year. IDG Capital was again the title sponsor, with Xpeng as a participant.

Xpeng is pursuing these new ambitions at a time when the main EV business is reaching a speed bump. The automaker has postponed its profit target to 2025 after a disappointing 2022 in which it achieved less than half of its annual sales target. reported Bloomberg earlier this week. The Guangzhou-headquartered company faces a price war with established Chinese EV maker BYD, which focuses on affordability, and Tesla, which has slashed prices a few times to lure more frugal consumers into the world’s largest car market.

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