By Ben Klayman
DETROIT: Hyundai Motor Co has stepped up efforts to develop “flying cars” and will offer services around these vehicles rather than just selling them, the South Korean automaker’s chief operating officer told Reuters.
Hyundai is ahead of the schedule it previously set for the deployment of urban air mobility vehicles, also known as flying cars, said Jose Munoz, Hyundai’s global chief operating officer, in a broadcast interview. Monday at the Reuters Events Car of the Future conference.
Munoz, who is also CEO of Hyundai North America, previously said urban air taxis will be operational at major US airports by 2028, possibly sooner. The executive told Reuters on Monday that it could possibly happen before 2025.
“We see this market as a significant growth opportunity,” Munoz said.
Hyundai is developing battery-powered air taxis that can carry five to six people from very congested urban centers to airports. Air taxis come in many shapes and sizes – electric motors are replacing jet engines, and airplanes have rotating wings and, in some cases, rotors in place of propellers.
Other automakers, including Toyota, General Motors, Daimler, and Geely, are developing flying cars on their own or with startups.
Morgan Stanley estimated that the total addressable market for urban air mobility could reach $ 1 trillion by 2040 and $ 9 trillion by 2050, but said short-term hurdles for the technology remain the regulation and certification. Munoz told Reuters he was “very confident” in the development of the technology.
In 2019, Hyundai, whose flying car unit is based in Washington, pledged to invest about $ 1.5 billion in urban air mobility by 2025.
In May, the automaker said it plans to invest $ 7.4 billion in the United States by 2025 to produce electric vehicles, modernize factories and continue investing in smart mobility solutions, including flying cars.
Munoz told Reuters that Hyundai sees its flying cars serving not only residential customers, but also transporting commercial goods.
Hyundai doesn’t want to sell flying cars as a simple transaction, but thinks it can develop services around vehicles, Munoz said.
As to whether the automaker is spending money in a market that may seem too far away, it doesn’t want to be behind a trend like it was when SUVs became a bigger part of the auto market, a- he declared.
“When it comes to future technologies … it’s never too early. Pioneers are the winners,” Munoz said.