Are flying cars really on the horizon?

20 Jun 2023

Image: © costazzurra/

From Japan to Brazil and everywhere in between, flying cars are being touted as the next generation of urban sustainable transportation as investments pour in.

Flying cars may have once belonged in the realms of science fiction, but not anymore.

Electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, also known as eVTOLs, are closer to going mainstream than ever before, with big manufacturers across the world announcing production plans and aiming to start commercial operations in a couple of years.

Japan’s Suzuki, one of the country’s biggest car makers, said today (20 June) that it has reached an agreement with SkyDrive to start producing flying cars from a Suzuki factory as early as spring 2024.

Based in the Japanese city of Toyota, SkyDrive will establish a wholly owned subsidiary to make the aircraft, according to a Reuters report, while Suzuki will help with preparations for the manufacturing. The two have been collaborating since at least March last year.

Hyundai, the South Korean carmaker, told last month that it expects to have flying cars in the skies by the end of this decade. “We could see some intra-city type application with the Urban Air Mobility for cargo, but maybe for passengers. But that’s towards the end of this decade and obviously smaller scale,” said Michael Cole, Hyundai’s UK boss.

Conventional to electric

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Brazil’s Eve Air Mobility is partnering with New York-headquartered Blade to bring its flying cars to Europe, starting with France. The two mobility players have unveiled their collaboration as they participate in the Paris Airshow this week.

Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal said that the partnership is part of a broader effort to lead the transition from conventional to electric vertical aircraft, the most desirable form of flying cars that will solve issues around land-based mobility without increasing carbon emissions.

Just last week, Eve teamed up with United Airlines to launch electric commuter flights in the San Francisco Bay area, one of the most densely populated areas in the US.

Other players in the flying cars space that have made an appearance at the Paris Airshow this week include Boeing, Germany’s Volocopter, Toyota-backed US start-up Joby Aviation and China’s Yihan. Use cases include tourism, emergency transport, and just as conventional taxis.

Uber, too, is investing heavily in the space as the household name in land-based taxis aims for the skies. The company handed its flying car project, Uber Elevate, to Joby Aviation last year, but will continue to invest in its development.

Expected market growth

Overall, the global market for flying vehicles, including uncrewed drones, is projected by Precedence Research to reach $45bn by the end of the decade. This is more than five times the $8.9bn figure estimated in 2022.

Morgan Stanley Research predicts that the autonomous aircraft market could be as large as $1.5tn by 2040, citing advances in VTOL technology as key in developing the urban flying car.

Two years ago, flying car technologies were brought into the spotlight after Klein Vision’s AirCar made a successful flight between the Slovakian cities of Nitra and Bratislava. The vehicle was piloted and driven by its creator, Prof Stefan Klein.

“This flight starts a new era of dual transportation vehicles,” said Klein after exiting the AirCar cockpit in Bratislava. “It opens a new category of transportation and returns the freedom originally attributed to cars back to the individual.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic