Chinese electric car start-up Xpeng, backed by Alibaba Group, is investing money in flying car technology as part of the company’s long-term strategy.
On Saturday, the electric vehicle maker unveiled the first in a series of electric flying vehicles that the startup said was developing at the Beijing Motor Show.
With eight propellers and a capsule-like frame, the Kiwigogo vehicle is more like a humanoid drone than a flying car.
Xpeng Heitech, a majority-owned technology unit of Xpeng and CEO He Xiaopeng, developed the prototype.
In a statement, Xpeng said: “Xpeng Heitech is part of the company’s long-term research and development, and the core business activity and development strategy have not changed.
She explained that (Xpeng Heitech) obtained 15 patents on her intellectual property rights over a period of seven years.
The company expects to benefit from research in areas such as precision technologies and mapping techniques.
The flying vehicle can accommodate up to two passengers and is designed for heights as low as 5 meters to 25 meters, according to the company.
The project is still in the concept phase, and the company said it would assess the space horizons before embarking on any major investment.
Brian Gu, Vice Chairman and Chairman of Xpeng, said:CNBC) In an interview on the sidelines of the Beijing Auto Show on Saturday: This is a far-reaching exploration of R&D for us to think about mobility in a larger context.
He added, “Not only will electric cars have the features of autonomous driving for intelligent mobility in the future, but also other devices that can establish a multi-dimensional ecosystem with other technologies, which is why we are investing in this field and doing some exploration.”
Regulations have been a major obstacle to the development of drones and autonomous cars.
Xpeng, a startup with a $ 1.7 billion venture capital, and raised another $ 1.5 billion in its initial public offering in August, is an emerging competitor for Tesla in the electric car market.
Other automakers, such as Toyota and Geely, which owns Volvo, are working on similar technology, while GM is studying the air taxi market.