Flying electric vehicle prototype unveiled by Chinese car company

Concept craft leaves driving base behind and takes off

Driverless electric flying car unveiled by Chinese company

Driverless electric flying car unveiled by Chinese company
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Chinese car maker GAC has released an autonomous electric flying car prototype that it says can drive on land and take off into the sky.

The futuristic prototype, named Gove (GAC On-the-Go Vertical EV) has a cabin that separates from the wheeled base, and features six helicopter-like rotor systems to enable it to take off. The manufacturer says it is made of 90 lightweight composite materials and has aerospace-grade high-precision docking technology.

Unveiled at a GAC tech day this week, the car is designed to operate as a flying taxi, eventually becoming an option on ride-hailing apps. The company says its cruising range will be 200km and it can carry one passenger.

“The commercialisation of flying cars takes a long time, but GAC’s team can overcome all the hurdles to be ready for long-term growth,” Wu Jian, director of the GAC research and development centre, told Yicai Global.

State-owned GAC is leading Chinese legacy vehicle manufacturers in the shift to green energy. Its EV brand Aion became the third best selling clean-car brand in the country, behind BYD and Tesla, after overtaking General Motors' joint venture with SAIC and Wuling Motors.

The Guangzhou-based company has been investing in research and development, and incubated the battery making unicorn Greater Bay Technology, which is working on EV cells that can charge in 15 minutes and in all weather conditions.

At the same event on Monday, the company said it has developed the world’s first car engine that runs on ammonia, adding to new energy solutions such as battery-powered electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells that reduce carbon emissions in the transport industry.

“We’ve overcome the pain point of ammonia being difficult to burn quickly and put the fuel to use in the passenger car industry,” said Qi Hongzhong, from GAC’s research and development centre. “Its value to society and for commercial uses are worth anticipating.”

Ammonia is being explored as a carbon-free fuel but it faces hurdles because of its low flammability and high nitrogen oxide emissions. GAC said it has developed a two-litre engine that can burn liquid ammonia more efficiently in a safe manner, achieving 120 kilowatts of power and a 90 per cent reduction in carbon emissions compared with conventional fuels, according to Mr Qi.

Updated: June 30, 2023, 10:51 AM