Xpeng is a seven-year-old Chinese electric car company that's growing fast, pulling in somewhere around US$2 billion in revenue this year and shipping somewhere around 50,000 cars. It's investing heavily in autonomy and charging infrastructure, while rolling out cars like the P7 that offer more range than Tesla's Model 3, at a cheaper price.
It's also getting serious about urban air mobility. Last week, its "affiliate" eVTOL company HT Aero announced it had raised more than half a billion US dollars in a single funding round. According to the AAM Reality Index, this staggering figure would make HT the fifth best-funded eVTOL company in the world.
Large biscuits indeed – more than three times the cash eHang is allegedly working with. There must be some serious plans going on behind the scenes here, since HT's current fifth-gen X2 aircraft doesn't look all that impressive on paper. It's a very basic-looking eight-rotor coaxial quadcopter design that can carry two passengers at speeds up to 130 km/h (80 mph) for up to 35 minutes.
A decent start, but most companies on their fifth iteration would start looking at transitioning aircraft capable of flying further and faster with more people on board. Not HT Aero. "Our next-generation model," said Founder and President Deli Zhao as the funding was announced, "will be a fully integrated flying vehicle and automobile, designed for both low-altitude air travel and road driving. We are planning for an official roll-out in 2024."
An eVTOL flying car, then. And what a thing it looks like. This glass-domed electric beast will drop plenty of jaws even before it opens up its gull-winged tail compartment to fold out the two colossal rotors it purports to fly on. Remember those gorgeous future-sportscars Lexus designed for Minority Report back in the day? If one of those married a Bugatti Chiron, and a Dyson vacuum was the neighborhood milkman, the offspring might look something like this.