back to article Beijing grants permit to 'flying car' that can handle 'roads and low altitude'

HT Aero, a subsidiary of Chinese automaker XPeng, says the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has granted it a flight permit for its two-seater electric "flying car," the XPeng X2. The aircraft is the first manned electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle to obtain the permit and HT Aero's fifth- …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    That looks pleasingly lethal

    If you should chance to be standing a little close when it starts up or lands... I wonder how they detect people standing in the arc of the propellers?

    1. Brian Scott

      Re: That looks pleasingly lethal

      "I wonder how they detect people standing in the arc of the propellers?"

      Blood spatters on the cockpit. Sure sign.

    2. Martin Gregorie

      Re: That looks pleasingly lethal

      Its just the next iteration of the standard CLFM* design. There have been a series of these demonstrated over at least the last decade, all following the same general design: a central cabin supported by four knee-height rotors. None of them have had any way to keep people from entering an operating rotor's disc or to prevent the rotors hitting obstructions during landing or takeoff.

      * Chinese Lethal Flying Machine

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: That looks pleasingly lethal

        I thought it started centuries ago when that Emporer tried to take off on his throne with lots and lots of firewaorks attched to it.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: That looks pleasingly lethal

      Same way that people have been doing it for over 100 years.

      You look with your eyes and then you yell CLEAR PROP!

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: That looks pleasingly lethal

        The thing with a vertical prop is that devices fitted with them tend to be operated by specialists in areas where the general public are excluded.

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    What is the acceptable limit of heads chopped off during an average trip?

    The population of China is so large, would they even notice?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lethal is understatement...

    Jeez, that would get you and your dog, hurling yourself flat won't save you!

    1. LogicGate Silver badge

      Re: Lethal is understatement...

      Think dual use!

      This is a Lawnmower AND a Peoplemower.. ...errr... ..People Mover

  4. Natalie Gritpants Jr

    If it could fly with the bottom two front rotors angled the wrong way, it would make a nice grass cutter for difficult-to-get-to fields.

  5. Goat Boy

    "can be driven on normal roads.."

    My definition of what that means must be different to theirs.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      "can be driven on normal roads and flown safely at low altitude."

      Which is fine until they encounter a normal pedestrian crossing the road.

      Might cut down on jaywalkers though.

    2. Crypto Monad Silver badge

      The definition is: in the same way that you can drive a hovercraft on normal roads. That doesn't mean it is advisable.

    3. FlossyThePig

      Well, it could blow away all the litter.

  6. lglethal Silver badge

    I'm surprised they havent encapsulated the rotors. First, there's the obvious danger to anyone and everyone in the vicinity during take-off and landing. Second, in the event of an emergency exit, the chances of someone escaping from, for instance, a burning X2 without catching a blade is pretty low, and thirdly, a blade off event (due to mechanical failure, bird strike, clipping something), means that blade is going to be launched at a very high speed, and the occupants have a very high chance of wearing the blade. That Carbon Fibre body is unlikely to stop a blade out event after all, or even slow it down.

    Ok, I get why they probably didnt go for ducted fans - weight and complexity. But having witnessed a blade out test, and the damage that can do, I certainly wouldnt be getting into that "car" anytime soon.

    1. Potty Professor

      Re: Blade off event

      Many years ago I worked for a large steam turbine manufacturer. We had an evacuated overspeed pit, which essentially consisted of a ten foot diameter concrete pipe lying on its side, with the gubbins inside, and which was pumped down to a fairly hard vacuum to prevent the blade tips from overheating. One day there was an almighty bang and the rotor under test disintegrated in a cloud of metallic bits. Some half an hour later, Mr. Plod rang to ask if we had recently lost a rotor blade, it had landed in a field 4½ miles away, narrowly missing the farmer who was ploughing the field. We found a large hole in the top of the pipe, through which the four foot long blade had exited, so the facility was decommissioned and a new, stronger installation built.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a motorcyclist, I'm terrified, but then I was almost killed this morning by some moron changing lanes without indicating or presumably looking.

  8. Ball boy Silver badge

    Queen Boadicea rides again!

    Scythed chariots were all the rage about, oh, 2,000 years ago. It's about time they made a come-back!

  9. Chris Roberts

    New definition of chopper

    See title

  10. wobball

    More blades per prop and a strong prop shroud def needed and not sure we're quite there with energy density yet but, without any evidence to support their lofty claims, it seems like their gettin' on with it!

    The auto fly/drive bit intrigues me.

    Is it just fancy INAV like or more DJI ish?

  11. Triggerfish

  12. chivo243 Silver badge

    Thanks, but I'll pass on this one

    Those blades look to be at a precarious level, too close to todgerville for me!

    My kevlar chainsaw pants must be in here somewhere...

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Thanks, but I'll pass on this one

      Those and a ground anchor!

  13. Tubz Silver badge

    Pointless, until it can transform from an aircraft to a car in a few seconds of touch down, for actually manoeuvring in a city to park and the reverse.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Monsieur Scaramanga, you've been watching too many James Bond films from the 70's!


  14. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    XPeng's signature intelligent OS

    .. which includes the option to powerdive the ground if the occupant is deemed to be surplus to requirement by the Communist Party..

    In Maoist China, hardware owns you!

  15. Marcelo Rodrigues

    Energy used per mass unit

    Every time someone starts with "flying cars", I start thinking about energy usage (forget about decapitations, mass accidents and general carnage).

    The world is in the middle of an energy crisis. Gas (or petrol depending on where You are) prices are going through the roof.

    We have several changes in usual habits - like people avoiding to fly, trains getting more used and so on.

    And then we see this: what must be one of the most intensive and less efficient use of energy to move someone from "A" to "B". There must be a market for this, of course. No one said a Ferrari is efficient. But boggles the mind to see people investing all this time and engineering on something like this.

    Or maybe I'm just an old grumpy git. Who knows?

  16. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    Sorry, but I have never understood the obsession with flying cars. If you are rich, buy a helicopter or airplane and pay someone to fly it for you, or learn yourself. Something like that lethal X2 will inevitably be restricted to helipads and airfields, and given the potential for damage/injury, will probably be banned from those too. The requirements for regular inspections of such vehicles is going to cost just as much as those of a helicopter so yer gonna have to be rich just to operate one, let alone the energy/purchase costs. Nice idea, but the reality is that what goes up must come down (unless you manage to reach escape velocity) and that is where all the damage occurs.

    1. fpx
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Why?

      Helicopters are mechanically complex and therefore pretty expensive to operate (in the range of US$1k per hour) and difficult to fly. Because of both, it is expensive to get a pilots license (in the range of US$100k, and many times that if you intend to fly commercially), meaning that you have to spend $$$ to fly yourself or spend $$$ to hire a pilot to shuttle you around.

      An electric quad- or octocopter could be significantly less complex (since you would not have turbines or a tilt rotor), and with automation much easier to fly. In theory, together that could bring down the operating cost considerably, so even people that are not obscenely rich could afford an occasional trip, but also the merely rich.

      So if you build one, the market will be there, even with all the limitations you mention in terms of restrictions, licensing, payload, etc.

      1. Ropewash

        Re: Why?

        Helicopter licensing is difficult for a reason.

        People can't even drive in two dimensions without causing fatal events, three dimensions will be an order of magnitude worse.

        Power lines, other vehicles, birds all must be dodged and when not dodged you need the now destroyed flier to not drop into people's homes.

        Add to that the nasty tendency for people to get drunk or try to show off how good they are at aerial acrobatics.

        No way do I see flying one of these to be any less regulated than a helicopter.

    2. Grunchy Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      All these fancy hotrod junk are dreadfully easy ways to get yourself killed.

      Motorcycles, mopeds, e-bikes even. Skateboards!

      Also jet boats, hopped-up cars. A good one is a gas-powered remote-controlled airplane that crashes into your neighbour's house & lights his roof on fire, there's a classy way to make your acquaintance.

      John Denver provides a cautionary tale. He bought his new home-built, with several years of good service under its belt, but with an awkward fuel tank switcher up & behind his left shoulder. ("For Safety Reasons")

      So he takes it for a rip, and runs the one tank out, so he unbuckles his harness and kinda twists around to yank that lever over. Meanwhile he pushes with his right foot onto full right rudder at about 150 ft above the deck. Instantaneous nose dive and ker-splash! I think he got decapitated by that one.

      Every time you try one of these things it's your "last chance".

  17. chivo243 Silver badge

    On second look

    This has to be the beta model... safety features are not ready for prime time yet!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A flying Sinclair C5. Awesome!

  19. TangoDelta72

    Speed Racer did it first...

    ...although it only had two blades in front. Failure to lift off.

    LEGO and a model.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Speed Racer did it first...

      As someone who has watched all of the Speed Racer cartoon, many, many times, I believe there was one time the Mach5 did fly... Now I have to watch them all again to find it! Wait, it did have the little wings for gliding!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do you call a flying car casualty?

    An “ XPeng-able” of course.

    A collateral collision.

  21. hairydog

    Leaving aside the dangers from the rotors, the carbon cost, and the sheer silliness of this, it's pretty obvious that it will only be able to use "normal" roads that have no pedestrians and no other traffic.

    Anyone who has cycled along as a vehicle has passed by closely knows the power of the slipstream. Roads are twisty, hilly, and pass shelted sections then sections where wind is funneled in. Vehicles' grip on the surface is an assumption inherent in the design of roads.

    Basically, this is a big passenger-carrying drone, and drones are not happy travelling along the ground. It won't work. It will have to fly up higher.

  22. Grunchy Silver badge

    Not really a car...

    Pretty fancy coffin though!

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