Beijing grants permit to 'flying car' that can handle 'roads and low altitude'
X2 eVTOL doesn't have wheels but paves the way for sedan-like X3
HT Aero, a subsidiary of Chinese automaker XPeng, says the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has granted it a flight permit for its two-seater electric "flying car," the XPeng X2.
The aircraft is the first manned electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle to obtain the permit and HT Aero's fifth-generation eVTOL.
Calling the vehicle a "car" seems like a bit of a stretch given that it has no wheels. The 4.97 x 4.78 x 1.36m (16.3 x 15.7 ft x 4.5 foot) carbon fiber body resembles a drone or quadcopter with retractable arms that reduce the width to 1.95m (6.4 ft).
On the corner of each arm sit two stacked rotors. The eight total rotors have a diameter of 1.83m (6ft) each and carry 560kg (1,235lb) – maximum 760kg (1675lb) – at expected cruising speeds of around 130kph (80mph).
The vehicle flies for up to 35 minutes at a max altitude of 1,000m (3,280ft) and is equipped with both manual and automatic flight modes. According to XPeng exec Jiaxi You, the vehicle "can be driven on normal roads and flown safely at low altitude."
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The X2 completed its first successful flight in June 2021 and since then has flown over 3,000 test flights.
"After obtaining the chartered flight certificate, we will continue to carry out a series of manned driving tests to accumulate data and experience in research and development, flight tests, and more in preparation for mass production," said HT Aero in Mandarin.
While the X2 doesn't exactly look much like a flying car, HT Aero's sixth generation is essentially a sedan with wings. The company plans to use the X2 certification to support the development of the X3, which should be available in 2024.
"HT Aero's sixth-generation road-capable flying car will build on the company's years of experience in developing eVTOLs, delivering an innovative vehicle for both land and air travel," said HT Aero, which claimed that the vehicle will not only "transition seamlessly from road to air" but also be "fully equipped with autonomous assistant pilot functions using XPeng's signature intelligent OS." ®