A number of flying car concepts have surfaced over the years, though these have typically been small, light aircraft that can double as cars. This means they still require a runway for takeoffs and landings, making them poorly suited for congestion-filled cities, where if such a thing existed, a flying car could provide the most utility.
That’s not the case for the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle being developed by Xpeng AeroHT, a sister company to electric-vehicle startup Xpeng. Xpeng AeroHT in 2021 revealed a concept, and in October, the company says, it successfully completed the maiden flight of a prototype.
Xpeng AeroHT’s machine is powered by batteries and resembles a sleek sedan with giant propellers mounted to the roof. The propellers fold away when it is driven on the ground and have been designed in such a way that the vehicle can still safely land should one of the propellers stop working.
The prototype is claimed to weigh about 4,270 lb, and for the maiden flight it reached an altitude of 33 feet and exhibited stable maneuverability, the company said. In flight mode, the driver uses a gear lever to control the vehicle.
Xpeng AeroHT flying car concept
Xpeng AeroHT didn’t mention a range, but the company said it envisaged the vehicle being used for short, low-altitude flight to escape heavy traffic or to quickly cross obstacles such as a river. For longer flights, Xpeng AeroHT is developing a separate model called the X2, which is a passenger drone designed to operate as a flying taxi.
The company said a commercial launch for the flying car would be subject to various laws and regulations but has previously hinted at it being ready to start sales in 2024 at price of 1 million renminbi (approximately $137,350).