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The Chinese language electrical automobile start-up Xpeng reveals a brand new flying car

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Electric vehicle start-up Xpeng unveiled its first-generation flying vehicle prototype at the Beijing Auto Show on September 26, 2020.

Evelyn Cheng

BEIJING – Alibaba-backed Xpeng is investing money in flying car technology as part of the company's long-term strategy.

The electric car maker unveiled the first of a line of electric aircraft the start-up is currently developing at the Beijing Auto Show on Saturday.

With eight propellers and a capsule-like frame, the vehicle looks more like a drone than a flying car. The prototype was developed by Xpeng Heitech, a technology unit that is majority owned by Xpeng and CEO He Xiaopeng.

Xpeng said in a press release that the unit is part of the company's long-term research and development and that its core business and development strategy will remain unchanged. The company sees benefits from research in areas such as precision and card technologies.

The flying vehicle can accommodate up to two passengers and is designed for low heights of 5 to 25 meters, according to Xpeng. The project is in a conceptual phase and the company has announced that it will evaluate prospects for the space before making any significant investments.

"This is a long-term R&D study where we really need to think about mobility in a bigger context," said Brian Gu, vice chairman and president of Xpeng, CNBC in an interview on the sidelines of the Beijing Auto Show on Saturday.

"We believe that in the future not only will electric vehicles have the capabilities for autonomous driving with intelligent mobility, but also use other technologies to enable other devices that can create a multi-dimensional ecosystem, which will be very exciting," said Gu. "So we're investing in this area and doing some exploration."

Regulation has been a major hurdle to the development of drones and self-driving cars that people carry.

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