Geely raises, the giants gather. How far is the flying car from the ground?
On September 9, the German city air travel company volocopter announced that it had completed the first round of C round of financing of 50 million euros. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely Holdings) led the investment and Daimler also participated in the investment, each of which accounted for 10%.
This became the third project in which Geely and Daimler cooperated. Previously, the two sides have cooperated in high-end travel services and the joint development of smart brands in the world.
Not only Geely, Daimler, Uber, Audi, and Toyota are trying to take a slice of the 100 billion market. However, when this goodness can enter the homes of ordinary people, it may be necessary to fly for a while.
Geely's three-dimensional travel ambition
With the continuous expansion of the city, the plane's traffic will be difficult to meet the travel needs of the citizens.
Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said: "The city traffic is undergoing profound changes. Volocopter's air taxis will bring new solutions to the air travel to meet the growing travel needs. This round of financing will further strengthen our leadership role in this field and promote urban air travel to serve the public."
The Volocopter has 18 rotors with vertical takeoff and landing technology. Behind the two-seat cockpit is a replaceable battery pack. The latest two-seater models have a top speed of 110 kilometers per hour and a cruising range of 35 kilometers. The “station” will be set up on the city's high-rise building near the subway station or bus stop to automatically replace the battery for the flying car and provide passengers with rest services.
Volocopter has previously successfully cooperated with the Dubai Road Transport Authority to test two unmanned aerial taxis; the prototype tested the water at the Helsinki International Airport in Finland and achieved compatibility with the air traffic official system.
The €50 million financing will help the Volocity model receive commercial certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in the next three years. After the completion of this round of financing, Volocopter's total financing will reach 85 million euros, Geely Holding and Daimler will enter the Volocopter board of directors.
Kang Linsong, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Daimler AG, said: "We are very pleased to see our partner Geely Holding investing in Volocopter and becoming a shareholder. We have been a shareholder of Volocopter since 2017. Daimler is committed to Supporting an innovative exploration of the new travel service model, Volocopter and its urban air travel concept are exciting examples."
In fact, this is not the first time Geely has laid out a flying car. As early as 2017, Geely laid out a company called the Ferrougia Flying Car Company.
Unlike volocopter, which is different for short-distance travel within the city; Taili will soon begin to develop inter-city passenger and cargo transportation solutions.
In August of this year, the products of Taili completed the ground test and successfully passed the first flight test at Nashua Airport in the United States. The car is hybrid and has a designed take-off weight of approximately 850 kg, a take-off distance of 430 m, a cruising speed of 167 km/h, a cruising altitude of 3,000 m and a range of 670 km.
According to the International Monetary Fund, China's urbanization rate will reach 70-75% by 2035. This means that in the next 16 years, 250 million people will enter the city, and small and medium-sized cities will gather in large cities to bring about a huge wave of urban immigration.
The economies of scale of the urban economy may be subject to capped bottlenecks in infrastructure, including transportation resources. From the two-dimensional ground to the three-dimensional sky, perhaps a good strategy. Linking the airport to the core business district, high-net-worth passengers between scenic spots and leisure accommodation may be the best cut-in scenes in the early days of a flying car.
Zhang Yangjun, Distinguished Professor of the Ministry of Education, and Director of the General Aviation Technology Research Center of Tsinghua University, believes that “flying cars will expand the road from the ground to the low-altitude and become a three-dimensional traffic of land and air, which will subvert traditional transportation and transportation. Effectively solve the traffic congestion problem and have a major impact on social, economic, security and environmental aspects."
Even if the product has not yet been launched, Geely has already laid out a layout around the flying car.
Even if the product has not yet been launched, Geely has already laid out a layout around the flying car.
In June 2018, Hainan Provincial Land Reclamation Investment Holding Group Co., Ltd. and Geely Group Co., Ltd. signed a cooperation framework agreement to explore the advantages of local marine tourism resources, explore the development of distant and offshore island tourism projects, and build personalized high-end travel. platform.
Li Shufu, Chairman of Geely Holding, said: Geely Holding will make full use of its own R&D system and industrial layout, and Volocopter will set up a joint venture to help them explore the Chinese market and provide users with the best travel experience.
In addition to flying cars, Geely has launched a comprehensive layout around the field of travel. Including strategic investment Cao Cao travels with Daimler to form a high-end travel company. From traditional manufacturers to travel service providers, global automakers are vying for new opportunities in this new competition.
What kind of market is a flying car?
"Flying cars can be imagined as unmanned driving five years ago. Whether it is market demand or improving the traffic conditions of a country, there is a good strategic prospect." Zhejiang Geely Holding Group executive vice president and chief financial officer Official Li Donghui told the Caijing reporter in a previous interview.
There is a huge market behind this.
By 2030, more than 60% of the world's population will live in cities. Air travel in cities will be the best solution to the challenges of urban travel, and the city's “air taxi” market has great potential. Deloitte's "Future Flying Cars for Mobile Travel" report predicts that in 2040, the US "air taxi" market alone will reach $17 billion.
Like Geely, the future of flying cars is optimistic, as well as many traditional car companies, aviation giants, and technology companies.
Audi took the first step on the road to developing a flying car. It combined Airbus and Italdesign, a design company of the Volkswagen Group, to jointly launch the compact Pop.Up Next autopilot prototype last year.
In 2017, Toyota invested in the American flying car startup Cartivator, which plans to launch a single-seat flying car at the opening of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to ignite the Olympic torch from the air.
Traditional aviation companies represented by Airbus are even less willing to settle in the flight field. Airbus's flying car is scheduled to fly first at the end of this year. The prototype will be mass-produced by 2020 and will be put into use within 10 years.
Uber works with the US Army Lab to test Uber Air taxis in 2020 and will begin commercial services in several cities in 2023. In addition, Uber also participated in the Japanese government's flight car program, and strive to introduce flying cars into Japan in the next 10 years.
However, when a flying car can move from the laboratory to reality, it is not only technology, but also regulations and cost considerations. Shen Haijun, a professor at the School of Aeronautics and Mechanics of Tongji University, told the Caijing reporter that companies must face problems such as how to take off, hang, safety, and airspace control within the city.
“Traditional car companies are investing in flying car companies, and more are deploying the future. We all know that the future traffic will develop in three-dimensional space, but it will be difficult to judge how long this time will take.” A flying car practitioner The person told the Caijing reporter.
Safety is a top priority. At the end of 2018, the prototype of the American start-up Detroit Flying Cars crashed into the ground during flight tests, causing injuries to workers. Geely plans to commercialize flying vehicle technology in China within three years, and the relevant regulations are still blank.
Chris Jaran, the CEO of the American flying car startup Terfugia, which was previously acquired by Geely, told the Caijing reporter that in China, where physical retail sales are hit hard by online shopping, flying cars will be used first in freight. In the United States, where the taxi business is declining and Uber is developing rapidly, the flying car will first appear in the passenger market. “But there are more applications in different areas in both countries, such as medical ambulance services that can be found anywhere, or at traffic accidents and then shipped to hospitals, etc.”
Share travel is a high hope of sharing the cost of flying cars.
Zhou An predicts that there are many ways to realize the flight of a flying car, and it is not necessary to realize it through possession. It can also realize the displacement demand through leasing and network.
According to the above-mentioned insiders, compared with the developed countries of the European and American aviation industry, China's technology and talent reserves in the navigation industry are still relatively large, which is why most of the flying car companies are in Europe and America, but the domestic is very few.
Air traffic control is also a topic that cannot be avoided. "Half-meter away from the ground will enter the civil aviation and military management system." Lu Yong, chairman of the General Aviation Development Group of Ruoer, told the Caijing reporter that any aircraft in China must be legally reviewed and certified by the Civil Aviation Administration. In addition, you must apply for airspace to fly. If the company wants a fixed airspace, it must apply to the military. You must tell the military before the application, the aircraft number, the pilot name, the company name, and so on.
The airspace reforms in recent years have changed the situation. In the "13th Five-Year Plan for Development of General Aviation" issued by the Civil Aviation Administration recently, the development goal of raising the low-altitude airspace from the vertical range of 1,000 meters to the true height of 3,000 meters is clearly stated. At the National Low-altitude Airspace Management Reform Work Conference in 2014, the Civil Aviation Administration stated that in 2015, the airspace of 1,000 meters below the true height was released in an orderly manner throughout the country. Guangdong and other regions have become pilot areas.
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