The Japanese government believes the cars have just had enough of a hundred years in the spotlight, and it’s time for another traffic revolution. The market for flying cars, or officially eVTOLs (electric aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing), could cross the $ 1 trillion mark in the next decade, with Japan taking its share of the industry’s upswing.
According to the Japan Times, the government wants to reduce air traffic congestion in large cities by diverting traffic to air, and to make it easy to reach mountainous areas and more remote islands – not to mention how well they can be used in emergencies and disasters. a fast-moving aircraft could come.
According to the forecast, flying cars will be niche products for the first time, only the most affluent will be able to afford them, and they too will only complement the existing fleet, similar to how the helicopter market works today. Later, as they become more cost and time efficient, they can take the place of airplanes and then cars pretty slowly. Tokyo’s startup, SkyDrive leader Fukuzava Tomohiro, says by 2050, all residents of the Japanese capital will have the opportunity to get anywhere in the city’s 23 districts in ten minutes.
There are at least a hundred projects around the world in various phases working to implement flying cars, including well-known companies like Airbus, Boeing or Uber. The designs are quite diverse: while the German Lilium, for example, is developing a five-seater, wide-wing monster, SkyDrive’s two-seater propeller vehicle most closely resembles a human-sized drone and only takes the place of two traditional cars in the parking lot – not least the world’s smallest aircraft. your car.
The 1.5-meter-tall, 4 x 3.5-meter-wide SD-XX is scheduled to go commercial in 2023 and will be able to fly tens of kilometers at 100 km / h on a single charge. The country’s first human aircraft test was conducted in April this year with a battery-powered vehicle equipped with two propellers at four corners.
SkyDrive started as a side project of Toyota employees in 2014, with a budget of only 40 million yen (about 90 million forints), spun off from the parent company in 2017, and by the fall of 2019 attracted a total investment of 2 billion yen (nearly 5.5 billion forints). NEC and Panasonic, among others, boarded. Toyota announced in January 2020 that it would invest an even larger amount of $ 400 million (approximately HUF 120 billion) in a company called Joby Aviation, which is developing an air taxi capable of carrying four passengers.
According to Fukuzava, it is not until the end of 2020 that an eVTOL can be developed that can travel at speeds of up to 60 km / h on the roads, but the big advantage of the vehicles is that, unlike helicopters with very few landing sites, due to their light weight and quietness, they will be comfortable to find a parking space: they can fit either in the yard or on the roof of a flat-roofed building.
There are now three target dates for SkyDrive staff: they plan to hold the first public human aircraft test at the end of this summer, try to launch their air taxi service in Tokyo and Osaka in 2023, and launch a fully self-propelled aircraft in 2028.
It is not yet known how much air taxis will cost passengers, but Fukuzava said it will be significantly cheaper than helicopters, where they will also ask for 50-80 thousand yen for a trip. The price of the SD-XX, which can be purchased, will rival that of a more expensive car, and the company wants to sell a hundred of them in the first year.