Nicknamed the “Flying Tiger”, it not only pays tribute to its striking black and gold livery, but also to its launch in the Year of the Tiger. Volkswagen Group China has unveiled its first prototype of an electrically powered, vertical take-off and landing passenger drone (eVTOL). The company is thus breaking new ground in the development of fully electric and sustainable individual mobility concepts. In 2020, Volkswagen Group China launched a “Vertical Mobility” project to develop mobility solutions for the future. This includes the market for urban air mobility and the expansion of urban transport from road to air. After intensive research, conception and development work, the project team has now developed its first prototype for testing in airspace – the V.MO.
The concept of the prototype is based on already existing solutions for autonomous driving and battery technologies for emission-free mobility. The model is designed as a high-quality X-wing configuration, with a length of 11.2 m and a wingspan of 10.6 m. It is equipped with eight rotors for the flight of the aircraft. It has eight rotors for lift and two rotors for propulsion. The group is conducting a series of flight tests for technical optimisation later this year. An improved prototype will undergo more extensive test flights by late summer 2023. In its final version, the fully electric and automated eVTOL could transport four passengers plus luggage over a distance of up to 200 km.
Dr Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, commented: “With this pilot project, we are taking Volkswagen’s long tradition of engineering, design and innovation to a new level by developing a premium product that addresses the vertical mobility needs of our future tech-savvy customers in China. This is a groundbreaking project that our young team of Chinese experts has set up from scratch. Not only are new design concepts and materials being used, but new safety standards are also being developed that redefine the entire development process and ensure innovation. With the presentation of this impressive prototype – the V.MO – we have reached the first milestone on our exciting path to mobility in urban airspace and delivered a prime example of our mission “From China, for China”. In the long term, we want to bring this concept to series maturity and, like a ‘Flying Tiger’, take a pioneering role in this new and dynamic mobility market.”
Volkswagen Group China is consistently expanding its local R&D capacities as well as its software expertise in order to be able to react more quickly to customer wishes and to significantly increase the pace of innovation. The “Vertical Mobility” project requires interdisciplinary and innovative thinking in a new field – accordingly, the Group has set up a young team of Chinese experts to drive the project forward. The team is supported by Chinese partners such as Hunan Sunward Technology, a subsidiary of the Hunan-based Sunward Group. The company specialises in the development and sales of general aviation aircraft and related services, and is a market leader in light sport aircraft.
Urban air mobility is a fast-growing market that seeks to use airspace for transport over short and medium distances, especially in and between large cities. In China, it will play an important role in the future of urban and municipal transport in congestion-plagued megacities. During the first phase of commercial use, the V.MO is expected to be offered as a premium product for affluent tech-savvy customers in China, for example in VIP shuttle operations. eVTOL air vehicles will be able to transport passengers faster, more efficiently and more flexibly than currently available terrestrial modes of transport. Volkswagen Group China will work with the relevant Chinese authorities as part of the Vertical Mobility project to obtain the relevant approvals.
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