The unveiling of the single-seat Kiwigogo T-One eVTOL personal air vehicle at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition on the stand of Chinese electric vehicle group Xpeng confirmed that the program is now proceeding with financial backing from the public company. Xpeng registered its new Xpeng Heitech subsidiary in China on September 23, three days before the show opened.
However, no details are available as to the anticipated timeline for certifying the T-One multicopter and bringing it to market. The light eVTOL is intended for local trips of just under 20 miles at speeds of up to 45 mph, and its batteries can support flights of up to 30 minutes. The vehicle, which features an unusual open cockpit, has eight propellers, each with its own electric motors.
The Xpeng group appears to have deep enough pockets to support the Xpeng Heitech division that is running the T-One program, having raised $1.5 billion in fresh capital via an August 27 initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. This followed two earlier rounds of funding that brought in $1.7 billion from Alibaba and Xiami Corp. and a further $500 million from several investors in July.
According to Chinese corporate registration records, Xpeng Heitech has RMB 10 million ($1.47 million) in capital. It is majority-owned by Xpeng founder He Xiaopeng (with 60 percent of the equity), and 20 percent is held by the group itself. During the Beijing show, the company indicated that it has longer-term plans to develop larger eVTOL aircraft.
Xpeng is the second major Chinese automotive group to take a stake in the electric aviation sector. In September 2019, Geely, which holds stakes in European carmakers Volvo and Daimler, invested around $55 million in German eVTOL pioneer Volocopter.