When it came to automotive innovation, this year's CES might have been dominated by language learning models and AI voice assistants, but it also offered a glimpse of what life will look like when the skies become the roads of the future.
Hyundai’s Supernal brand arguably hogged the limelight with its impressively imposing S-A2 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) craft, which looks poised to become the Uber of the air. But Xpeng AeroHT also delivered the cloud-skimming goods.
On its stand sat the equally jaw-dropping Flying Car, but its is the Land Aircraft Carrier that Xpeng AeroHT says you will be able to buy first.
In fact, the Chinese eVTOL specialists are going to start taking pre-orders towards the end of this year, with customer deliveries slated for the end of 2025.
As a gentle reminder, the Land Aircraft Carrier is a six wheeled, three-axle extended range electric off-road MPV that contains a section in the rear that houses its very own eVTOL craft. The idea is that you drive to a beauty spot, park up and take to the skies. The 'Ground Module' can even charge the 'Air Module'.
"Even though it looks like an off-road vehicle, its performance on the road is also excellent, as it has three powerful motors driving each axle,” Xpeng AeroHT’s co-founder and vice president, Tan Wang told T3 at the show.
"I like flying, I have a helicopter, but I can’t take the helicopter where I want. If I have this car, I can drive to where I want, park up and go flying," he added.
Wang also went so far as to reveal that the entire package would cost the equivalent of $200,000/£157,000/€182,000/AUS$298,000. But his focus is on China first, before eventually (and hopefully) rolling it out further.
Those worried about the legalities of such a thing can rest easy, as Wang claims the eVTOL craft is far simpler to operate than a typical helicopter. Thanks to high levels of autonomy, he is convinced it will take much less than the 40 flying hours and intense training required to obtain a helicopter licence.
XPeng AeroHT says it is busy testing a prototype right now, while it is in the process of having the eVTOL craft signed off by the Chinese Aviation Authority, so it is ready to take to the skies on its self-imposed delivery date.