XPeng's Urban Air Mobility Affiliate HT Aero to Raise $500+ Million in Series A Funding Round
【Summary】HT Aero, an urban air mobility (UAM) company and an affiliate of Chinese electric vehicle startup XPeng Inc., announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with a consortium of investors to raise over US$500 million in Series A funding. It will be the largest single-tranche fundraising to date in Asia’s electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) sector.
HT Aero, an urban air mobility (UAM) company and an affiliate of Chinese electric vehicle startup XPeng Inc., announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with a consortium of investors to raise over US$500 million in Series A funding.
The funding round is being led by IDG Capital, 5Y Capital and XPeng Inc. with participation by a consortium of other investors, including Sequoia China, Eastern Bell Capital, GGV Capital, GL Ventures and Yunfeng Capital.
The Series A financing will be the largest single-tranche fundraising to date in Asia's electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) sector.
"HT Aero's deep roots in proven technology and sophisticated R&D capabilities will help it jumpstart the industrialization of flying cars," said Mr. Guangfu Cui, Partner of IDG Capital. "We believe that the flying vehicle sector will be a trillion-dollar market."
HT Aero, which is headquartered in Guangzhou, is among a handful of new aviation startups developing urban air mobility. Others include German company Lilium and Toyota-backed Joby Aviation. However, HT Aero is targeting individual customers, meaning the eVTOL aircraft will be more like personal flying cars than commercial air taxis.
In September, HT Aero unveiled its fifth-generation flying vehicle dubbed the "XPeng X2." The aircraft was presented at the 13th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China 2021).
The X2 is a two-seater enclosed-cockpit eVTOL aircraft that combines both automotive and aerospace technologies for urban flight. It's equipped with an intelligent flight control system and autonomous flying capability, including fully autonomous return and landing.
The X2 shares similar styling and design language as XPeng's P7 smart sedan. The aircraft has an elegant, minimalist "sci-fi appearance", according to XPeng.
The X2 is powered by a highly efficient and convenient charging system, leveraging XPeng's supercharging technology developed for its electric vehicles. It even has a plug-in charging port that's similar to an electric car.
The X2 is fully autonomous in flight, meaning that users only need to press a single key for core functions such as take off and landing. The design makes its much more intuitive for users and ensures a safe flight experience for inexperienced pilots, according to HT Aero.
"Our mission has always been to explore efficient, safer, and carbon-neutral mobility solutions that go beyond smart EVs," said Mr. He Xiaopeng, Chairman and CEO of XPeng.
"The investment in HT Aero will further accelerate the build-up of our ecosystem to integrate driving and flying."
The X2's maximum cruising speed is 130 kilometers per hour (80 mph). The eVTOL aircraft is designed to fly for 35 minutes at an altitude of under 1,000 meters, making it suitable for low-altitude urban air mobility.
HT Aero was founded in 2013. The company was one of the earliest pioneers in the flying vehicle sector and is now China's largest eVTOL startup. It's also one of the few private enterprises in China's aviation sector with a proven track record of roughly 15,000 safe manned test flights.
"The Series A financing will provide us with sufficient resources to advance our research and development, acquire top-tier talent, and to continue to gain airworthiness provision and certification," said Mr. Deli Zhao, Founder and President of HT Aero. "Our next-generation model will be a fully integrated flying vehicle and automobile, designed for both low-altitude air travel and road driving. We are planning for an official roll-out in 2024," Mr. Zhao added.
HT Aero has a team of 500 experts in fields such as industrial design, structural mechanics, embedded systems, integrated avionics, manned flight test, flight control and autonomous driving.
The Company has R&D centers and laboratories located in Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, and R&D flight tests and compliance verification flights are conducted in Panyu, Guangzhou.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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