Chinese automaker GAC Group on Monday showcased an electric, unmanned flying car prototype, a product it says can move both on the ground and through the air, in a futuristic plan to take its urban mobility to another dimension.
Why it matters: The debut makes GAC the latest Chinese automaker to promise riders flying taxis, a still immature technology, after the Toyota manufacturing partner began recruiting for a number of aircraft research and development engineering roles a year ago.
Details: The prototype, dubbed Gove, is being built on a modular system in which the flight and automobile components can be separated, meaning passengers could drive away the concept once it lands.
- GAC envisions a future where passengers can easily access multi-dimensional mobility services ranging from electric air taxis to ride-hailing platforms, according to Wu Jian, president of GAC Research Institute, who spoke at the company’s annual tech day event in Guangzhou.
- The automaker did not reveal many production details about the flying car, with Wu only mentioning that passengers within the Greater Bay Area where GAC is headquartered would prefer a driving range of at least 200 kilometers (124 miles), Chinese media outlet Caixin reported.
Context: Several Chinese automakers have been working on electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOLs) air taxis, but none have yet received approval for commercial use from local regulators.
- Aerofugia, an affiliate of Volvo’s parent Geely, said it had filed an application for operations of its prototype test aircraft with the southwestern bureau of the Civil Aviation Administration of China last year. Aerofugia’s AE200 eVTOLs have reached the airworthiness review stage, Caixin reported on April 7.
- Xpeng Aeroht, a startup backed by Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng Motors, said in January that it had been granted a regulator-issued certificate to pilot test its Xpeng X2 two-person flying car which has a battery life of 25 minutes. The company plans to start selling the next generation of its flying car with a price tag of around RMB 1 million ($138,596) as early as 2025.
Update: Xpeng Aeroht said on Tuesday that it would not sell its fifth-generation flying car, the Xpeng X2, which was previously referred to in this article as the Traveler X2, but has plans to sell the next generation of its aircraft as early as 2025.