Beyond electrification and autonomous driving, urban air mobility looks to be the next big ticket item automakers are intent on exploring, with more signaling their intent to head down that path.
Movement on this front has been gaining traction in recent months – in Japan, NEC unveiled a flying car prototype, while Chinese carmaker Geely announced that it was investing in Volocopter, a privately-owned German aircraft manufacturer.
Hyundai, meanwhile, has established a new urban air mobility division, and of course, there’s our own “flying car” project, which entrepreneur development minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof expects to be revealed before the year is out.
Now, word is that Porsche is working towards a similar direction. The automaker has signed a memorandum of understanding with aircraft manufacturer Boeing to explore the premium urban air mobility market and the extension of urban traffic into airspace.
Aside from creating an international team to address various aspects of urban air mobility, including analysis of the market potential for premium vehicles and possible use cases, the two companies – together with Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences – are developing a concept for a fully electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle. Engineers from both companies, as well as Porsche subsidiaries Porsche Engineering Services and Studio F.A. Porsche, are set to implement and test a prototype.
Detlev von Platen, member of the executive board for sales and marketing at Porsche, said that the move falls in line with the automaker’s belief that air mobility will be a potential key market segment of the future, and it’s looking at getting in to the premium segment.
“Porsche is looking to enhance its scope as a sports car manufacturer by becoming a leading brand for premium mobility. In the longer term, this could mean moving into the third dimension of travel,” he said.
According to a study carried out last year by Porsche Consulting, the urban air mobility market is forecasted to pick up speed after 2025. The study also indicates that such solutions will transport passengers more quickly and efficiently than current conventional means of terrestrial transport, at a lower cost and with greater flexibility.