Aerofugia (沃飞长空), an eVTOL startup affiliated with Geely Technology, has completed a Series A round of financing for an amount exceeding 100 million yuan (US$13.79 million).
The round was led by Tsinghua Holdings Capital, with participation from Oriza Holdings, Hainan Honghua Aviation and Shaanxi Kongtian Soaring Technology.
Proceeds from this round will go toward the R&D and market exploration for AE200, an eVTOL model designed by Aerofugia.
Currently, the startup, based in Chengdu of western China’s Sichuan Province, has two flying cars in its product portfolio, VoloCity and AE200.
Left: AE200 Right: VoloCity
VoloCity is a lightweight aerial vehicle that stands out for its “exceptional” safety. It will enter commercial operation on a trial run during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, says Aerofugia.
Another model, AE200, is a wide-body aircraft with a range of 200 km and suited to the “diverse transportation needs” in Chinese urban clusters, according to the company’s website.
All photos courtesy of Aerofugia
Aerofugia was born on September 15, 2020 following an announcement by Geely Technology, the tech arm of Volvo’s parent Geely Motor Group, to set up this eVTOL unit.
The startup itself resulted from a merger that Geely helped to broker between drone manufacturer Aossci (傲势) and Terrafugia (太力), an air taxi builder.
The Chinese automotive giant has bet on opportunities in the emerging urban air mobility (UAM) industry, leveraging its capital, resources and political clout to support Aerofugia in the eVTOL game.
As China’s governments relax restrictions to open up low-altitude airspace, they are on track to creating a multi-billion-dollar industry: air taxi for short-haul intra- and inter-city transportation.
A statement on Aerofugia’s website indicates that its products are mainly applied in three low-airspace scenarios, including mobility, logistics and first aid.
Jing Chao, CEO of Aerofugia, said in 2021 that its Volocopter flying car had secured an airworthiness certificate from European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
This makes it easier for the firm to secure a Chinese certificate under the protocol of a China-EU bilateral aviation safety agreement.
This gives a boost to aviation manufacturers by simplifying the process of gaining product approvals from regulatory authorities in both regions.
“So around 2024, we will launch flying cars tailored to China’s UAM market in Chinese cities,” said Jing then. “We are very confident about that (prospect).”
The rosy outlook on this sector has attracted a number of eVTOL startups and a steady stream of investments.
Aerofugia faces stiff competition in this realm against domestic rivals like TCab Tech (时的科技), Volant (沃兰特), Xpeng Aeroht (小鹏汇天), Vertaxi (御风未来) and EHang (亿航科技, Nasdaq: EH).