Urban Air Mobility Company Backed by Electric Automaker XPeng Inc Begins Trail Production of its Voyager X2 ‘Flying Car'

Urban Air Mobility Company Backed by Electric Automaker XPeng Inc Begins Trail Production of its Voyager X2 ‘Flying Car'

Author: Eric Walz   

Xpeng Aeroht, a UAM (urban air mobility) company backed by electric vehicle maker XPeng Inc., started trial production of its Voyager X2 "flying car" at its factory on July 25, according to a post on Chinese social media platform Weibo by He Xiaopeng, chairman and CEO of XPeng. The trial production run was first reported by news outlet Gasgoo in China.

The Voyager X2 is a closed cockpit, two-seater eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft that may one day wisk passengers over urban traffic below. It's also capable of driving on roads using a foldable mechanism that retracts its rotors. The latest model is the sixth generation of the aircraft.

XPeng's chairman also said on Weibo that the company rented a trial production factory similar to this one in size four years ago, but was testing different manufacturing methods with other equipment. For one, the new facility is using autoclaves to manufacture the carbon-fiber components of the X2, which is not typically done in the automotive industry.

Autoclaves have been used in the aviation industry for decades by companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Autoclave processing uses high temperatures and pressures to produce lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) parts, as well as aluminum alloy parts.

Autoclaves use a vacuum chamber to squeeze the air from the layers of materials so that the laminates bond more strongly together, thereby increasing the strength of the aircraft components.

The entire airframe of the X2 is carbon fiber. It weighs 560 kilograms when empty. Maximum take-off weight of 760 kilograms (1,675 lbs.) with a capacity for two passengers.

Xpeng Aeroht shared a series of videos earlier this year that demonstrated how a typical urban commute might look like in the X2. It showed how the X2 can connect to the airport and other transportation hubs, simulating how travelers might use an urban air taxi service.

Maximum cruising speed of the Voyager X2 is 130 kilometers per hour (80 mph). It's designed to fly for 35 minutes at an altitude of under 1,000 meters, making it suitable for low-altitude urban air mobility. But the X2 can also serve as a field rescue aircraft or for emergency medical transportation.

In early July, Xpeng chairman He Xiaopeng posted another video on Weibo demonstrating a 0-100km/h acceleration test of the Voyager X2. He added that the X2 flies with extreme precision and the accurate flight controls offer responsive acceleration and maneuvering.

The X2 was unveiled by Xpeng Aeroht in Sept 2021 at the 13th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition. The X2 was also on display at eCarExpo in Stockholm, Sweden in April. It was the first time that XPeng's flying car was shown in Europe. 

The X2 combines both automotive and aerospace technologies. It's equipped with an intelligent flight control system and autonomous flying capability. 

The X2's pilot only needed to press a single key for core functions such as take off and landing. The design makes its much more intuitive to operate and ensures a safe flight experience for inexperienced pilots.

Before take-off, the flight control systems in the X2 performs intelligent autonomous route planning based on the destination entered by the user. The system first evaluates the flight path for such things as nearby buildings, no-fly and restricted areas, as well as weather conditions in order to calculate a safe route in the air.

The design language of the X2 is borrowed from XPeng's flagship P7 electric sedan, which is a competitor to Tesla's Model S. It presents an elegant, minimalist "sci-fi appearance", according to XPeng.  

The Voyager X2 is powered by highly efficient electric motors and includes a convenient charging system, leveraging the same supercharging technology developed for XPeng's electric vehicles. The X2 includes a plug-in charging port that's similar to that of an electric vehicle. The X2 also utilizes high-efficiency aerodynamics to optimize flight performance which can also help increase range.

The X2 has already undergone more than 15,000 safe, manned flights, according to XPeng.

On June 30th, XPeng Aeroht announced the completion of its $500 million Series A financing round. Leading the round was Xpeng Inc, IDG Capital and 5Y Capital. Other investors included Sequoia China, Eastern Bell Capital, GGV Capital, Hillhouse Capital, and Yunfeng Group.

The investment was the largest ever investment round in the nascent urban air mobility field in China, according to XPeng. 

Other startups working on electric vertical take off & landing (eVTOL) aircraft include Toyota-backed Joby Aviation, Volocopter, Lilium and Ehang. 

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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