In the future, the skies could be as crowded as the high street with Hyundai Motor is betting on flying cars to be introduced by 2028.
South Korea’s biggest automaker is developing models that can carry five or six people above highways and is looking at larger vehicles to fly between cities.
Jaiwon Shin, head of its urban air mobility unit said the demand for the product is likely to spike.“People who are always stuck in traffic on the road will realise how convenient it is to move via aerial vehicles,” said Shin, 61. “That is when we will see demand explode.”
Shin also said some flying cars may debut as early as 2023, but Hyundai is targeting 2028, when more infrastructure has been built and public awareness is higher. To attract early customers, Hyundai is trying to reduce the vehicles’ cost and noise level, while keeping safety as a key focus, he said.
Besides people carriers, Hyundai is working on a variant meant for hauling goods, with a capacity of as much as 300 kilos (660 pounds). The company hasn’t decided where to build or first introduce its aerial vehicles.
Airbus SE, Boeing Co. and startups such as Lilium are among the competition. Vahana, the self-piloting air taxi developed by A3, Airbus’s tech-centric Silicon Valley outpost, completed its first test flight in 2018 and Boeing’s prototype made its maiden flight in January last year.
XPeng Inc., a Chinese electric-car maker, last month unveiled a prototype that can carry two people and levitate at up to 25 meters.
Morgan Stanley analysts, in their most bullish estimates, predict the technology could lead to a $2.9 trillion industry by 2040 — and even their most pessimistic view pegs the value at $615 billion.