The largest eVTOL prototype ever flown in China is being tested by Geely.

A full-size, five-seat eVTOL air taxi prototype with tilting propulsion units is the Aerofugia AE200 technical demonstrator. This Chinese automaker has major aspirations for the urban air transportation market, and this is a strong indication of that.

 

In January Weibo, the AE200-series technical demonstrator takes to the skies for the first time.

 

Do you recall the Massachusetts-based Terrafugia Transition flying car? After being purchased by Chinese juggernaut Geely in 2017, Terrafugia changed its focus to designing transitional eVTOLs before being all but shut down and moving to China in 2021. Then, Geely invested over US$55 million in the German eVTOL startup Volocopter, launched a subsidiary there named Aerofugia, and established a joint venture to enter the eVTOL air taxi market.

Now that the Terrafugia team’s latest eVTOL concepts have been created, Aerofugia has a full-scale prototype in the air. The AE200-series technical demonstration is a five-seat electric air taxi with four long propulsion pods, each with a propeller at either end. It has a wide, top-mounted wing. The inner two pods are joined by a rear wing and extend back into vertical tail fins, and the front bank of props is capable of tilting completely horizontally for cruise flight.

 

Aerofugia plans to enter the market with a piloted design, much like fellow Chinese eVTOL startups Autoflight and TCab Tech, rather than launching directly into automated air taxis like eHang is now employing to transport passengers.

According to the South China Morning Post, the AE200 prototype is the largest Chinese eVTOL ever flown, although it’s not clear how similar this aircraft is to the TF-2, which Aerofugia hopes to certify and put into service by 2025–2026.

 

The sleek Aerofugia TF-2 design is likely closer to what will go through to production Aerofugia

Although it has a five-seat configuration as well, the TF-2 looks to have a different cabin design, a raised rear wing, and a pusher prop behind the cabin for cruise flying. In cruise flight, only the outer two of its front propellers appear to be able to tilt forward, with the remaining propellers staying vertically oriented.


Although though Geely is merely China’s seventh-largest automaker, it still sells more than two million vehicles yearly and generates revenues of about $14 billion. Even though there is a rather significant step to be taken between automotive and aerospace, it brings massive volume manufacturing capabilities to the table as the parent business of Aerofugia. Thus, Aerofugia has a chance to develop into a major player in this market.

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