UK start-up Vehicle Redesign has begun manufacturing the first full-scale prototype of its “hyper-luxury” NeoXcraft XP2 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which it hopes will make a first flight in 2020.
Headquartered in Derby, the company is also concurrently building quarter- and half-scale models of the two-seat XP2, which will be used to test the aircraft’s flight systems.
Speaking at the Global Urban Air Summit in Farnborough on 4 September, Vehicle Redesign co-founder Michael Smith said the company is making “good progress” with the ducted fan-equipped aircraft, and plans to “bring the product to market in 2022”.
He says Vehicle Redesign recently appointed a “well-known luxury automotive brand”, new to the aerospace industry, to design and manufacture the interior. “We will name the partner soon – our aim is display a full-scale mock-up of this high-end cabin at the Farnborough air show in July 2020,” says Smith.
Built from “extremely lightweight” graphene-enhanced carbonfibre, the XP2 is powered by eight 30kW electric motors – two in each motor arm driving a pair of contra-rotating propellers. The aircraft is projected to have a range of 125nm (230km), a flight-time on full charge of around 50min, a top speed of 135kt (250km/h) and a ceiling of 2,000ft. Priced at £2 million ($2.4 million), the XP2 will be equipped with an emergency parachute system and will operate from land and water, says Smith.
The company is holding discussions with a number of global operators, high-end service providers and airport operators in Bermuda, Japan, Dubai, Monaco and Saudi Arabia who are interested in the XP2 for VIP transport.
“There is huge interest in this model from the luxury travel sector, as well as from owner-flyers,” says Smith.
Vehicle Redesign is starting to build the infrastructure now to support XP2 owners. It is in talks with several “strategic” airports across the globe. including East Midlands and TAG Farnborough in the UK, to establish charging points and landing sites for the aircraft.
The firm has secured £500,000 in seed investment from private investors, which is funding the aircraft through to first flight. It has also won, through its Series A funding round, a pledge of £10 million from an undisclosed Japanese consortium and another pledge of the same amount from a German family.
The capital will be released once the aircraft has made its first flight, and will be used to fund the certification effort.
A Series B offering will be launched in late 2020 to raise the capital to build the manufacturing and assembly plants. “We have already had a commitment from a Norwegian venture capital firm for considerable amount of money,” says Smith.
This is contingent on the aircraft securing European certification, and on Vehicle Redesign building a final assembly facility in Norway to supply the local market. The rest of Europe will be supplied by a UK-based plant, with Derby, Cardiff and Farnborough potential locations for the facility, Smith says.