Mark Tanner
10 November 2021 0 Comments

Beijing’s ambition to develop a world-leading EV industry has been bolstered by generous state subsidies and an enormous domestic market who have purchased more EVs than the rest of the world combined in recent years. These factors have contributed to more than 300 EV companies formed in China.

Whilst Beijing is trying to consolidate the unwieldy industry, the sheer competition has forced a number of innovations in the market including the SAIC-GM’s top-selling Hongguang Mini, on the road for a mere $4,500. Yet the most exciting innovations has come from one of the most famous and well-funded startups, Xpeng, who unveiled plans for its flying car late last month.

In addition to solid performance in the road, the sixth generation eVTOL (electric Vehicle Take-Off and Landing) vehicle will be able to fly at low altitude. Mass product is scheduled to begin in 2024 and will retail at under ¥1 million ($156,000).

On the road, the car is relatively normal, but in flight mode two propellers extend from either side of the car’s body giving it a 12 metre wingspan. The propellers make it look like an enormous drone – an industry that China leads with Shenzhen’s DJI accounting for 70% of the world’s consumer drone market. Guangzhou-based Xpeng is just down the road and has undoubtedly drawn on this local expertise and is an example of the value China is realising from having so much of the world’s manufacturing on its shores.

Whereas flying cars seemed like a far-into-the-future concept not long ago, they appear to be coming soon. Telsa has also suggested its cars may be able to elevate a metre into the air. Governments will be forced to make some imminent decisions about who can fly them, where and when. In Xpeng’s home market China, there are already strict rules about flying paths, which is why you don’t see a lot of helicopters buzzing around China’s cities. There will obviously be safety issues, defence rules, and other challenges such as noise pollution, which is likely to be high with propellers strong enough to lift a car. We are watching with interest!