Volkswagen Group China has revealed its first electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) passenger drone prototype as part of the firm’s strategy to explore new forms of fully electric, sustainable mobility.
In 2020, VW Group China launched a new Vertical Mobility project to explore the urban air mobility market. After substantial research and development, Volkswagen has unveiled the V.MO, the first validation model prototype.
Nicknamed the ‘Flying Tiger’ due its black and gold livery, the eVTOL prototype concept is based on existing autonomous driving solutions and battery technology.
The V.MO features an X-wing configuration and measures 11.3m in length and 10.6m in width. It has eight rotors for vertical lift and two propellers for horizontal flight.
Volkswagen Group China plans to test the eVTOL craft later this year, with an improved prototype set to undergo further advanced test flights by late summer 2023.
In its final specification, the Group says the fully electric, automated eVTOL could eventually carry four passengers and luggage over a distance of up to 200km (124 miles).
“Through this pilot project, we are bringing Volkswagen’s long tradition of precision engineering, design, and innovation to the next level, by developing a premium product that will serve the vertical mobility needs of our future tech savvy Chinese customers,” said Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China.
“The launch of this stunning validation model – the V.MO – is the first of many remarkable milestones on our exciting journey towards urban air travel, and a perfect example of our ‘From China, For China’ mission.”
A number of car manufacturers are exploring eVTOL projects, including Hyundai Motor Group. The Korean car giant set up Supernal - a new eVTOL division - last year and recently unveiled a new passenger concept.
Volkswagen Group China says that urban air mobility is a “fast-emerging market”, with China set to play a significant role in the future of urban and intercity transportation.
In its first commercial use, V.MO is set to be pitched as a premium product for VIP air shuttle services.
The group says that as its vertical mobility project develops, it will work with the relevant Chinese authorities to achieve certification.