XPeng Aeroht presents lofty concepts designed to (also) stay on the ground

Xpeng Aeroht, the flying car business of the Chinese EV manufacturer, presented two futuristic concepts at Xpeng Tech Day 2023. The designs combine road and air travel and reach back to the company's early roots.

Image: Xpeng Aeroht

You may also remember an early flying car nearly launched by Audi and Airbus before the German carmaker cut all ties to such fancy drones in 2019. Still, the Pop Up Next may have provided clues as to XPeng’s airy undertaking.

Admittedly, the Chinese flying car company has also been working on eVTOLs with a terrestrial component, at least theoretically, for some time. Still, the new concepts presented at the parent company’s Tech Day are bold, if not fantastical. 

Perhaps that explains why XPeng directly references “Transformers” in describing its “modular flying car”. Staying within the movie world, you may think of James Bond when looking at the “supercar style” concept that can turn into a flying machine when unfolding its secret propellers. Regardless, XPeng Aeroht sees potential for public services like emergency rescue. The other detail disclosed by the company is the “intelligent cockpit that seamlessly switches between land and flight modes, adapting components like the steering wheel and dashboard,” depending on whether it is in drive or flight.

Back to the comparably down-to-earth ‘Land Aircraft Carrier’ as it is aptly named. XPeng envisions a range-extended three-axle van carrying an eVTOL on board. The concept van can also recharge the two-seater in between flights. Up to five people may stay inside the “ground module”, and XPeng also likens the transporter to a “lunar exploration vehicle”.

Stylish pictures aside, it is not likely that these concepts will launch anytime soon. XPeng admits that the final design is still in development but emphasises the “futuristic, cyber-mechanical aesthetic”.

And the company does not come out of nowhere. The “air module” of at least the van concept could rely on XPeng’s actual eVTOL technology. The company, in October 2022, conducted the first public flight in Dubai, the Xpeng 2 eVTOL. In January of this year, Chinese authorities reportedly granted a conditional flight permit – making the Aeroht X2 the first crewed eVTOL to obtain such a license for test flights in China.

Considering the real-life applications, the new low-altitude multi-parachute rescue system may come in handy. Also presented at the XPeng Tech Day and already tested, the system can slow down a fall enough to guarantee a safer landing at about 5 m/s, claims XPeng. What’s remarkable – the parachutes can still unfold at an altitude of 50 metres – usually, over 200 metres are standard.

XPeng Aehrot also showed a new 6-axis, 6-rotor configuration, which incorporates two reversible ducts. Thanks to millisecond-level algorithm adjustments and a thrust-to-weight ratio exceeding 2, this means the aircraft can still fly even after losing two of its six rotors, according to XPeng.



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