CES 2024: China EV maker Xpeng accepts pre-orders for flying car but notes urban use is far off

CES 2024: China EV maker Xpeng accepts pre-orders for flying car but notes urban use is far off

CES 2024: China EV maker Xpeng accepts pre-orders for flying car but notes urban use is far off

Seven years after EHang debuted its first passenger drone, Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng entered the market with its own “flying car”, with the goal of delivering the first batch by the fourth quarter of 2025, whether regulations are ready or not.

The company’s subsidiary AeroHT presented two types of flying cars at CES 2024 in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Its modular Land Aircraft Carrier will start taking pre-orders in the fourth quarter this year, with deliveries to start a year later. The sportier AeroHT eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) car made its international debut at the show, having previously conducted flying tests in China.

There is no information on pricing or availability for the AeroHT, which has propellers that pop out of the back. It has been demoed for flying in China, but it did not take flight at CES. Brian Gu Hongdi, vice-chairman and president of Xpeng, suggested it could launch before regulations are in place for city use, but that people could eventually buy one and fly it in areas where the use of aircraft is not regulated.

Hisense and TCL push AI in TVs, chase industry trends like smart cars

“The design of our vehicles is not targeted for urban transportation … [which] requires an extensive regulatory approval process,” Gu said. “That’s why we’re targeting a consumer market, for people to first enjoy the experience of flying and then obviously with the regulatory framework in place, we gradually can move towards urban transportation.”

While Gu said it was too early to say what pricing might be, he expects it to be “similar to buying a luxury performance car”.

AeroHT’s modular Land Aircraft Carrier comes with a separate aircraft that launches from the car. Photo: Handout

Xpeng distanced itself from the EHang comparison, saying its products are different and target different buyers. The EV company, which made its debut at CES two years after EHang with its first car, noted that EHang’s products are just aerial vehicles without the ability to be driven on roads. EHang is also targeting enterprise use, while Xpeng is targeting a wider consumer base.

“We are targeting the consumer market, which is very different,” Gu said. “I don’t see another company that’s doing that right now.”

While Xpeng has also highlighted how the Land Aircraft Carrier could be used for public services like emergency rescue, the new eVTOL car is a more stylish option that can conceal its rotors. This will presumably make it more appealing for people to buy, whenever it becomes available, even if they cannot fly it to work every morning.

AI to dominate CES 2024, with glasses for blind, shoes to walk faster

Gu said the company is already in talks with regulators in China but international expansion “takes time”.

Xpeng’s ambitions could face some challenges with current geopolitical tensions, though. Chinese drone tech has been caught in the cross hairs before. Washington put DJI, the world’s largest consumer drone maker, on its Entity List that bars US companies from doing business with it without express approval.

When asked whether this could present some hurdles, Gu said, “I’m not even thinking about that right now … This business is purely focused on the China market right now.”

Source link