EV manufacturer Xpeng’s flying car company, HT Aero, recently raised USD 500 million in Series A funding led by IDG Capital, 5Y Capital, and XPeng. It is the largest investment round for a company in Asia’s urban air mobility (UAM) sector.
The investment will be used for research and development, said Zhao Deli, founder and president of HT Aero, in a press release. The company’s latest ground-based and airborne transporter will be a “fully integrated flying vehicle and automobile, designed for both low-altitude flying and road-driving.”
HT Aero didn’t reveal additional details about its most recently developed personal transporter. But in the World New Energy Vehicle Congress held last month, Zhao described a car that “can spread its wings and fly into the sky when there’s a traffic jam or bad weather, and take off or land vertically after considering road conditions.”
HT Aero is planning for an official rollout in 2024, but didn’t reveal a detailed timeline for the launch. The company has developed five generations of manned electric flying vehicles since its founding in 2013, according to HT Aero’s website. In July, it showcased the X2, a flying car prototype that can carry one passenger.
Startups and automakers are racing to develop next-generation vehicles and shape the future of transportation. Germany’s flying taxi startup, Lilium, raised USD 830 million on the Nasdaq stock exchange through a SPAC deal earlier this year. Car manufacturer Geely set up a joint venture with German flying car developer Volocopter last month, and has plans to introduce air taxi services in China.
These vehicles still face obstacles before they hit the road (or the air), including regulatory scrutiny. Currently, there are no laws governing the UAM sector in China. State media outlet Guangming Daily reported last week that officials are taking part in discussions to define the relevant laws, traffic rules, testing procedures, and safety standards.