The cars of the future are waiting for clearance to take off

The X2 flying car produced by Chinese company XPeng is on display at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province in September. [Photo by Long Wei/for China Daily]

Flying vehicles offer a solution to urban traffic congestion

Traffic jams are a common problem in cities around the world, be it Beijing, Tokyo or New York, with some frustrated drivers wanting to be able to fly over vehicles blocking their way.

Such ambitions could be realized sooner than expected, with “flying cars” commonly known as vertical take-off and landing electric vehicles, or eVTOLs, quickly becoming a reality.

HT Aero, a subsidiary of Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng, demonstrated a flying car late last month, saying it planned to introduce these vehicles in 2024.

The cars will feature a lightweight design and rotors that fold up, so vehicles can be driven on the roads before and after the flight. With a number of safety devices, including parachutes, each vehicle will cost less than one million yuan ($ 156,400), the company said.

Globally, some 250 companies develop and produce flying vehicles, and the list is growing, according to a report by consulting firm McKinsey.

Robin Riedel, a McKinsey partner, said the flying car industry has been around for more than a decade and the “convergence of several trends” has sparked increased interest in it.

“First, on-demand services have changed the way we think about mobility. Second, there is special attention to the durability, which these vehicles support. Third, there is a lot of funding available from investors who want to be part of the next big thing, ”said Riedel.

HT Aero, which last month raised $ 500 million in its last fundraiser, is now valued at over $ 1 billion. US-based start-up Joby Aviation went public on the New York Stock Exchange in August, while Germany-headquartered Lilium is also considering an IPO.

The emerging flying vehicle sector, which is now seen as a serious solution to urban traffic jams and a new alternative to personal mobility in cities, is expected to grow into a market valued at $ 1 trillion by 2040 and $ 9 trillion. dollars by 2050, according to global financial services firm Morgan Stanley.

Flying vehicles are usually the size of ordinary vehicles or slightly larger. Equipped with rotors, or wings and rotors, most of them will fly at speeds of 100 to 300 kilometers per hour and carry several passengers.

Powered by batteries, cars have less complicated parts than regular vehicles and are safer than light aircraft such as helicopters. Without traditional motors, they are quieter and should also be cheaper.

Fabien Nestmann, vice president of public affairs at Volocopter, a Germany-based company focused on making the airplane an option for everyone and reinventing mobility in urban areas, said: “We don’t want it’s a toy for the rich, but part of a well-integrated trip for anyone living in an urban area. Everyone should have the opportunity to walk, be driven, cycle, or fly. “

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