Monday, October 3, 2022

Suzuki signs deal to develop, market ‘flying cars’

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Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor  and ‘flying car’ firm SkyDrive said on Tuesday they have signed a deal to team up in research, development and marketing of electric, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

In a joint statement, the two companies said they will also work to open up new markets with an initial focus on India, where Suzuki has a roughly half share of the auto market. Suzuki announced on Sunday it plans to invest 104.4 billion rupees ($1.37 billion) in its India factory to produce electric vehicles and batteries. read more

The companies didn’t disclose details of investments in their partnership, nor outline any production timetable or target.

Founded in 2018, Tokyo-headquartered SkyDrive counts big Japan businesses like trading house Itochu, tech firm NEC and a unit of energy company Eneos Holdings among its main shareholders. In 2020 it raised 5.1 billion yen ($42 million) in total in Series B funds, according to its website.

SkyDrive is currently engaged in the development of a compact, two-seating electric-powered flying car with plans for full-scale production. The statement did not say whether Suzuki would be working on this specific vehicle.

The company, which is also developing cargo drones, aims to launch a ‘flying car’ service in Osaka in 2025 when the Japanese city hosts the World Expo.

For Suzuki, the partnership will add ‘flying cars’ as a fourth mobility business, in addition to automobiles, motorcycles and outboard motors, the statement said.

Flying cars are formally known as eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft. eVTOL are characterized by electrification, a fully autonomous autopilot, and vertical takeoff and landing. As a new advancement in the field of mobility, the development of flying cars is being promoted in many countries around the world. In Japan, the Public-Private Council for Air Mobility Revolution was established in 2018 with meetings held since then. The project is expected to lead to taxi services in urban areas, new means of transportation for remote islands and mountainous areas, and emergency transportation in times of disaster. A roadmap has been formulated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) for the start of business in 2023 and full-scale deployment in 2030.

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