Volkswagen has on Tuesday said it will look into the potential of flying vehicles in China, becoming the latest automaker to explore the prospects of private air travel.
The news comes as companies from start-ups to other global carmakers are racing to develop commercial “robo-taxis”, hoping to cash in on a market Morgan Stanley says could be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040.
The German group said in a statement, “Beyond autonomous driving the concept of vertical mobility could be a next step to take our mobility approach into the future, especially especially in the technically affine Chinese market.
“Therefore we are investigating potential concepts and partners in a feasibility study to identify the possibility to industrialize this approach.”
China is the world’s largest autos market and is also Volkswagen’s single biggest customer.
Germany’s Lilium and Volocopter, have also showed interested in investing in flying cars just like big shots like Volkswagen, Airbus, including U.S.-based Joby.
Flying cars could take years to come to reality because it would need to operate in crowded airspace, near small drones and traditional aeroplanes. Safety and reliability can also be an issue for vertical mobility. Arguements have been around the corner that it is more risky than electric mobility.
In an interview posted to LinkedIn on Tuesday, head of Volkswagen China Stephan Wöllenstein told Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess that the company also plans to develop a drone that could be licensed, which would help it to participate in the future market for individual mobility that’s taking place up in the air and not down on the streets.
In September, Japanese company Sky Drive Inc. conducted Japan’s first public demonstration of a flying vehicle. And Germany’s Lilium, which is also developing an eVTOL aircraft, in November announced its first US hub near Orlando, Florida.