The worldwide loss of productive man-hours due to increased road congestion has become a major cause of concern for employees, enterprises, government bodies and environment protection bodies alike.
Although,improved digitization courtesy of smartphones has strengthened the cause of ride-hailing and car sharing services. But,it is still a long time away from what we call an effective long-term sustainable mobility solution. This has made innovative brains around the world to look to the sky to fight this growing and long-standing menace of what we call traffic. Whether it will bear any fruit or not, we will see further in the report.
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The flying cars will not create a market of their own rather it will be derived from the market of supercars, hyper cars and general aviation. The cumulative annual volume of super cars and hyper cars is ~20,000 units per year,whereas general aviation volume is roughly 2,500 units per year. The minimum initial cost of flying cars will be in excess of $200,000, which can also exceed $1,000,000 as in the case of Aeromobil.
Post Porsche’s partnership with Boeing to develop an electric flying taxi, Audi has held back the idea of flying cars.
The higher initial cost could be attributed to the manufacturer recovering cost for R&D, certification ,production tooling and raw materials. The higher price will have a negative impact on sales, limiting the initial market to individuals or organizations with deep pockets.
As the vehicle will be airborne, they demand new policies and regulations which will differ with the locations. The vehicle manufacturers should consider the regulations of each of these locations when developing the model.
Some of the critical regulations and policies that the flying car might have to adhere to are
Archer Aviation unveiled its first electric flying taxi “Maker” in June 2021. Archer is planning for Maker’s commercial launch in 2024 in the Los Angeles and Miami regions.
Virgin Atlantic, British airline, is exploring the flying taxi market in partnership with Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace. The airline suggests e-VTOL could fly from towns to major airports.
In March 2021, Air Asia announced that they are planning to launch a flying taxi business in 18 months or so. It is a 4-seater vehicle, powered by a quadcopter.
Uber made headlines in Aug `18, when it announced that it will be launching flying taxi services in 5 countries. The shortlist, also included a surprise name, “India” where annual per capita income is less than $2,000.
It has collaborated with NASA and plans to launch its flying taxi services in Los Angeles by 2020.Even in flying taxi market, it will not own any aircrafts, and rather it will be just an aggregator and provide its network to support the same.
In December 2020, Uber sold its flying taxi business to Joby Aviation. Uber has agreed to invest $75 million in Joby Aviation. The move will allow Joby to use Uber’s app to offer air taxi rides by 2023.
In Asia and Oceania region, Volocopter, is working with Singapore` civil aviation authority to facilitate air rides by Q3 2019. In New Zealand, Cora- a Larry page owned company is working with Air New Zealand to launch world’s first flying taxi service as soon as possible.
The flying taxi operators are yet to decide the actual cost per trip. But we have put an estimated cost as per inputs gathered from our discussion with industry participants in the report.
Global popularity of flying cars is expected to peak in 2024-2025 period when there will be a handful of companies operating these cars.
Many of the world’s largest aerospace and automotive companies are ramping up their interest in e-VTOL. OEMs like Boeing, Airbus and Embraer have ongoing e-VTOL development programs. major aerospace suppliers Raytheon, SAFRAN, Rolls-Royce, and Honeywell, are all investing in e-VTOL technologies.
The flying cars will not create a market of their own rather it will be derived from the market of supercars, hyper cars and general aviation. The cumulative annual volume of supercars and hyper cars is ~20,000 units per year, whereas general aviation volume is roughly 2,500 units per year.
This increased interest in autonomous vehicles is fueling interest in autonomous flying cars and flying taxis. The rationale is – once the autonomous technologies are proven to be safe and reliable in the real world, it will enter mass production, bringing down the cost of major components.
But, here lies the biggest challenge. The new regulations from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) asserting that a 2/4-seater flying taxi has to be as safe as a commercial aircraft carrying >100 passengers, will further increase development and certification costs for more than 100 startups active in the flying taxi market.
With the growth in technology and disposable income, cars were thought of as the ultimate mobility solution. The automotive industry boomed for many years in the 20th century, resulting in clogged urban streets across the globe.
The higher the car population in a country, the more time their average commuters spend in traffic.This ultimately leads to loss of productive man hours, fuel and increased emissions. The traffic problem remains the same for a person whether travelling in an entry level car or the most luxurious car. This is where flying car and flying taxi have something more to offer. They can provide door to door transportation without worrying about the traffic problem.
This increased interest in autonomous vehicles is fueling interest in autonomous flying car and flying taxi. The rationale is – once the autonomous technologies are proven to be safe and reliable in the real world, it will enter mass production, bringing down the cost of major components.
But, here lies the biggest challenge.The new regulations from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) asserting that a 2/4 seater flying taxi has to be as safe as a commercial aircraft carrying >100 passengers, will be further increase development and certifcation costs for more than 100 startups active in the flying taxi market.
Dubai is embracing the idea of autonomous vehicles faster than the even the US and Europe. It has plans to make 25% of its public transport autonomous by 2030 and is following its target very keenly. In both the cases,US or Europe will provide the requisite technology and manpower.
In June 2021, Volocopter flew its Volocopter 2X in public for the first time in France at the Paris Air Forum. Volocopter is confident of bringing air taxi services to Paris in time for the 2024 Olympic Games.
In October 2020, PAL-V’s Liberty was the first car to be approved for on road testing and the testing took place across European highways. Over 1,200 test reports have to be completed before the final 150 hours of flight testing can take place. On completion of which it will be deemed to be commercial use.
In August 2020, world’s smallest flying car Toyota’s SkyDrive successfully completed its first manned test flight. The SD-03 model has 8 rotors that help it fly, as well as a failsafe mode that will keep it airborne even if multiple motors fail. The vehicle is expected to be commercially available by 2023.
Airbus’ CityAirbus Air taxi vehicle conducted its first public flight in the Bavarian region of Germany. Vehicle’s type certification and commercial introduction are planned for 2023.
Widespread adoption of flying cars will be predominantly shaped by public perception. Safety being the prime challenge for the flying cars which would hinder the broad range adoption.
Even small diversion of road traffic to the skies in the busiest region of major cities will bring about significant impact on the traffic congestion and the fuel consumption.
It is estimated that if Flying Taxis become more accessible and if 20% of traffic moved to the skies, it could reduce fuel use by as much as 74%. The key is the number of travellers a single taxi can take which will decide the impact of these vehicles.
Flying Car & Flying Taxi Market will be a substantial market only by 2030-2035 period.
Helicopters have long been the favorite mode of air transportation of HNWIs and military due to their versatility in operation. Therefore, if the concept of flying car has to be successful, then its acceptance has to go beyond that of a helicopter and lighter compact aircraft.
If we compare flying taxi market to other on demand mobility solutions like bike and scooter sharing market. The scale was easily achieved because of the lower cost of bikes and scooters. For instance, to buy 1,000 pedal bicycles in US it would cost ~$0.5 M and it will serve at least 5,000 people per day with minimal operating costs. Compare this with minimum $0.4M-$0.6M per electric aircraft price, which can seat just two. Add $200-$300 per hour pilot`s cost and high cost of vertiport development, we are looking at a very expensive new mobility concept.
The minimum initial cost of flying cars will be in excess of $200,000, which can also exceed $1,000,000 as in the case of Aeromobil.
The higher initial cost could be attributed to the manufacturer recovering cost for R&D, certification, production tooling and raw materials. The higher price will have a negative impact on sales, limiting the initial market to individuals or organizations with deep pockets.
PAL-V’s model Liberty ‘Pioneer Edition’ is priced at $ 599,000 (North America region) and its 2nd model Sport Edition’ is priced at $ 399,000. This price varies with the location of the buyer as the prices for customers based in Europe are slightly lesser when compared to customers based in Asia or America regions.
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