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Volkswagen Group China unveils its first eVTOL passenger drone prototype: V.MO

Volkswagen Group China unveiled its first electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) passenger drone prototype, as part of its strategy to explore and break new ground in fully electric and sustainable individual mobility concepts.


In 2020, Volkswagen Group China launched a Vertical Mobility project to explore the next generation of mobility solutions, including the urban air mobility market and the extension of urban traffic into airspace. After intensive research, conceptual work, and development, the project team has now developed its first validation model:the V.MO.

This initial prototype has also been nicknamed the Flying Tiger due to its distinctive black and gold livery, which was painted to commemorate its launch in the Year of the Tiger.

The prototype concept is based on existing autonomous driving solutions and battery technology for emission-free mobility. With a luxury X-wing configuration of 11.2m in length and a span width of 10.6m, the model features eight rotors for vertical lift and two propellers for horizontal flight.

The Group will conduct several flight tests later this year to optimize the concept and an improved prototype will undergo further advanced test flights by late summer 2023. In its final future iteration, the fully electric and automated eVTOL could eventually carry four passengers plus luggage over a distance of up to 200 km.


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. This is a pioneering project which our young team of Chinese experts started from scratch—they are working with new design concepts and materials while developing new safety standards, disrupting and innovating every step of the way.

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. Our long-term aim is to industrialize this concept and, like a ‘Flying Tiger’, break new ground in this emerging and fast-evolving new mobility market.

—Dr. Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China

Volkswagen Group China is rapidly expanding local R&D and software expertise to respond faster to what customers want and accelerate the pace of innovation significantly. The Vertical Mobility project requires interdisciplinary and innovative thinking in a new field, and the Group formed a team of young, local experts to drive it forward. They have been supported by Chinese partners including Hunan Sunward Technology, a subsidiary of Hunan-based manufacturing group Sunward. The company specializes in aviation product development, sales and services and is a market leader in the light sport aircraft industry.

Urban air mobility is a fast-emerging market which aims to utilize air space for short- and medium-distance connections, especially above and between large cities. In China, it is set to play a significant role in the future of urban and intercity transportation in its congested megacities.

In the first phase of its commercial use, V.MO is likely to be pitched as a premium product for high-net worth tech savvy Chinese customers, for example for VIP air shuttle services. eVTOL air vehicles will be able to transport passengers more quickly and efficiently than current conventional means of terrestrial transport and with greater flexibility. As the Vertical Mobility project develops, Volkswagen Group China will work with the relevant Chinese authorities to achieve certification.



Not madly keen on it.

Plenty of exposed blades to slice and dice unsuspecting Chinese customers.


Agree. Same sentiment. While electric motors have reduced or eliminated the complexity of multi-rotor aircraft. There looks like little need beyond four rotors. Joby does a good job with 6, though they could drop two and still have a low disk loading.


They have split the issues of lift and forward motion, rather than rotating them as Joby do:


We need ducted fan vectored thrust



The Lillium design looks great, if only it can be made to work, and work reliably.

they are really pushing it with their hoped for specs.


A ducted quad copter with a wing would be better



Anyone working on something like that?

There are so many variants around that I lose track....


The one I fancied last time I looked into it for early electric air mobility, trainers aside, was the Velocopter

the reason for that is on the tech sheets:

Its the 5 minute exchangeable battery packs.

In early technology I always prefer it when a design criteria can be relaxed, instead of relying on smashing it with technological advance.

Repeatedly fast charging batteries, which you have to do in many commercial environment to give enough working hours of use, is tough on batteries.

That is annoying in a truck, and is one of the reasons I am dubious about batteries for long distance heavy load trucking, but it is rather more than annoying if your batteries decide that enough is enough when you are in flight.

The Volocopter obeys KISS.

No massive disc load, as in the Lillium.

No reliance on fast charging, as in the Joby.

Swap out the batteries, and make them last longer by charging them up slowly.

Modest range of 35km too, so no need for massive batteries.




The bladeless drone is just cool!
I want one!

I had a look at the Sabrewing site:

but could see nothing at all about how they intend to power it, what batteries etc.

And for another quibble, folding wings sound complicated, at first blush.


And being Grinchish on the Dyson drone thing, as it says in the comments:

' I think you'll find the same problem others have when trying to use entrained airflow in this manner: works fine for vertical motion, falls apart when you start moving sideways'

Loads of other quibbles which sound pretty reasonable in the comments, too.


Looking at Joby, not only are they relatively far along in certification, but they have the backing of Toyota and access to their technology, which is the gold standard for companies other companies want to work with.

There is less involvement than some competitors with actual aerospace companies however, which should be borne in mind.

But just the same Toyota involvement is never a bad thing.

What springs to mind is access to Toyota's solid state battery technology.

As usual, they don't tell us much, as they don't need hype to raise development funds, but here is the latest I could dig out from their presentation in Sept 2021:

' Based on that data, we continued to make improvements, and in August last year, we obtained license plate registration for vehicles equipped with all-solid-state batteries and conducted test drives.

There are some things that we have learned during the development process.

All-solid-state batteries are expected to have higher output because of the fast movement of ions within them.

Therefore, we would like to take advantage of the favorable properties of all-solid-state batteries by also using them in HEVs.

On the other hand, we found that short service life was an issue.

To solve this and other issues, we need to continue development, mainly of solid electrolyte materials.

We feel that having identified an issue has brought us one step closer to commercialization.'

Surely as an early market though eVTOL is great, as increased energy density both in volume and, even more importantly, in weight terms, is so critical for aircraft, especially those of a VTOL persuasion.

In a premium market like air taxis the ability of solid state to fast charge is perhaps more important that service life, although of course that is very helpful.

And perhaps later when range becomes important Toyota's expertise in fuel cells may be a valuable resource, although you really need fc's running on liquid hydrogen in the application, not something Toyota have done, and higher temperature fuel cells would be enormously advantageous as Hypoint are developing.

Should Toyota require access to other technologies than those it has developed in house though, companies queue up to associate themselves with them, basically because they don't screw them over, unlike for instance a famous BEV builder who always seems to end up suing associates and suppliers, before eventually having to settle as their complaints are usually shown to be without foundation.


@Davemart, @SJC
Dyson Drone is cool, yet note applies to quadcopters in general:
“ I think you'll find the same problem others have when trying to use entrained airflow in this manner: works fine for vertical motion, falls apart when you start moving sideways”.
Jetoptera uses a similar fluidic propulsion in a traditional aircraft design.



I'm wondering if this Dyson like lift could be applied, leaving only the 'minor' problem of the transition to horizontal flight? ;-)


Another interesting eVTOL design that obeys the KISS design is the Beta Air Alia-250. It has already flown long distances, though still needs to perform VTOL.

This is a VTOL aircraft (really a Super STOL since the wing performs lift), it is not designed to hover so Disk Loading is not as critical as in a helicopter. Another point, it is a fast charger, however, since the battery is in the belly it could be adapted to battery swapping.
Watch “ Secrets of the Amazing New Beta Technologies Electric EVTOL Prototype Airplane”


For transition to horizontal flight, you could tilt the rotors like in the Bell X-22A Quad Tilt-Duct.


Quads bank by increasing the thrust on one, that would change the angle of attack on the wing


Beta Technologies also have a reasonably informative website, showing for instance their landing pad design, charging stations and sites planned:

Their 50 minute recharge time is realistic, for current batteries, but unfortunately compared to the ten minutes or so it takes to load and unload passengers, means considerable downtime.

I have not spotted their range estimates yet, but no doubt it is there somewhere - important things like the women's football Euro's final have intervened! ;-)



I'm loving the Jetoptera website, above all perhaps that their solution is so scalable, so that one heck of a lot of testing and proving can be done using relatively inexpensive drones.

If Hypoint pull off their HTPEM fuel cell technology, that would make a great power source for these.

Jetoptera reckon that all batteries are way too low in energy density, even novel solid state designs.

' The energy required to propel our smallest aircraft at 200 mph for 30 minutes is 100 kWh. This energy can be provided by 26 kg of jet fuel or 600 kg of modern Li-ion batteries. Should battery technology evolve to better than 1,500 Wh/kg, we can use it in our designs.'

I'm not sure why they specify that they need such a high energy density, as numerous designs using props like Joby manage on way less.

Are they saying that their design is more energy greedy?


From Jetoptera's website:

' Jetoptera’s design is a true distributed propulsion that is integrated into a novel airframe. It improves propulsive efficiency by more than 10% while lowering fuel consumption by more than 50% compared to small turbojets. The propulsion system saves approximately 30% in weight compared to turbofans or turboprops and also significantly reduces complexity.'

Presumably designs like Joby's do way better than a 'small turbojet' as their batteries are nothing like 1500Wh/kg


Forbes however don't really believe Joby's claims of range using regular batteries:

That was back in 2020

Joby have doubled down on their range claims:


The Beta Technologies Alia-250 is already flying and plans to get FAA certification in 2024. Recently, the Alia flew from Plattsburgh, New York To Bentonville, Arkansas.
The Alia has a 250 nautical mile range and currently is operating CTOL. The next phase of testing will be for VTOL.



I have now had a chance to look at the Beta Technologies video, and found the arguments persuasive, in particular those for separating the drive and the lift propellers rather than rotating them as Joby do, and for locating the batteries centrally in the body.

In fact, if Toyota were not involved, I would dismiss Joby.

Interestingly, the design principles of the Volocopter and the Alia 250 are not dissimilar, with the same emphasis on simplicity, although of course the Alia goes the route of minimal hovering and a fixed wing, whilst for the short hops it is designed for the Volocopter is basically a hovering machine which does forward motion too

Here is their White paper on pioneering the Urban Air mobility revolution, which gives a lot of insight into their design choices:

My preferred design is the Alia, at any rate for anything other than the very short hops the Volocoptor is designed for.

It has thrown away a lot of weight and complexity by abandoning tilting rotors.


There is quite a good video here explaining Jetoptera's bladeless design here, for folk like me who had no clue how on earth it works:

Just add suitable batteries.......;-)



I remember you speaking highly of the Piasecki eVTOL concept.
I have now had a chance to look into it a bit, as following their association with Hypoint, which is one of their possible power options with their HTPEM cells.

As usual with your picks, I am impressed.

' The PA-890 eVTOL features a large four-bladed main rotor, a variable incidence wing that rotates up to 90 degrees to minimize download for efficient hovering, and swiveling tail rotor that provides anti-torque and yaw control. As the PA-890 transitions to forward flight the wing rotates to a horizontal position providing lift to offload the rotor and the tail rotor swivels to provide efficient forward propulsion. With lift and thrust demands on the rotor relieved, the rotor RPM is slowed. The combined effect is a dramatic increase in efficiency and range while decreasing noise. The aircraft features seating for five and a large baggage compartment. The cabin size and layout allows multiple configurations for different missions.

The PA-890 eVTOL Slowed Rotor Compound Helicopter has been designed for FAA certification under existing Part 27 standards, reducing the technical, cost and schedule risk of bringing this product to the commercial market relative to more novel configurations requiring unique certification basis. The PA-890 is focused on penetrating known existing markets such as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and will leverage that success to exploit opportunity in the emerging trillion dollar Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) markets.'

So they are able to leverage much of their existing expertise in manufacturing helicopters, as well as greatly easing certification.

If the Hypoint fuel cell system works out, this will be amazing, but they also have other alternatives if there are issues.

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