Suzuki Joins The Fray To Develop Flying Cars

Japanese automobile giant Suzuki has joined hands with SkyDrive to bring flying cars to the market. Suzuki's partnership will allow it to engage in development and research covering flying car mechanics, manufacturing, and commercialization of aerial vehicles known as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. SkyDrive, on the other hand, has already conducted manned test flights of such vehicles and aims to launch a flying car in the Osaka Bay area by 2025. Another key takeaway from the announcement is that Suzuki is targeting India for market development, a country where electric cars are still in their nascent stages of adoption.

Over the past few years, investments have poured in for aerial taxi startups globally, but Japan just might race ahead of the competition — and that mostly has to do with proper government support for such ambitions. As per the roadmap sketched by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT), the business of flying taxis kicks off in 2023, and mass deployment is slated to happen within the next couple of years after that. However, neither Suzuki nor its partner has shared any further details about the plans. 

The industry is abuzz

Suzuki throwing its hat in the flying car fray is definitely a positive sign for the industry, but things have picked up pace elsewhere, too. Earlier this month, Slovakian company AeroMobil launched the AM NEXT, which the company claims to be the world's first four-seater flying taxi. The vehicle, which looks like the blend of a supercar and a light aircraft, is planned for an official launch in 2027. Capable of transforming from road mode to aerial configuration in just three minutes (and vice versa), AeroMobil says its flying taxi service will ferry passengers up to a distance of 500 miles for city-hoppers.

The Slovakian authorities also gave the green light to the flying car named AirCar developed by a company named Klein Vision. Running on a BMW engine, this one can transform in a window of just two minutes. Swedish startup Jetson Aero also demonstrated the Jetson One earlier this month, promising deliveries as early as next year. This latter model looks more like a manned drone with its barebones approach to design than the slick flying cars promised by sci-fi films. Renault also partnered with Miami-based design studio The Arsenale to create an actual flying car called Air4. Talking about markets and related developments, Nikkei Asia reports the US and China are the biggest patent holders over flying car technology.