Volkswagen is looking into developing a flying car in China

Business Insider US
The logo of German carmaker Volkswagen is seen on a rim cap in a showroom of a Volkswagen car dealer in Brussels
  • Volkswagen is investigating the feasibility of producing flying cars in China.
  • The German company is also looking into developing drones that can be licensed.
  • Volkswagen is one of many companies that is exploring the development of flying vehicles.
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Volkswagen is conducting research in China about developing flying cars, the automaker said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Beyond autonomous driving the concept of vertical mobility could be a next step to take our mobility approach into the future," the carmaker said in the statement. "We are investigating potential concepts and partners in a feasibility study to identify the possibility to industrialize this approach."

As the world's largest car market, as well as the German company's top consumer, China is a fitting place for Volkswagen to explore expanding its market into air travel.

"China is crucial for Volkswagen AG," Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen wrote on LinkedIn on Tuesday. "We have to make better use of the high speed, ambition and, above all, the great innovative strength from China for Volkswagen."

While many other companies have declared interest in the flying vehicle market, the production itself faces many hurdles, including battery power, cost, and safety restrictions.

Upward propulsion requires significantly more force than a typical car and would require more powerful batteries in order to go long distances.

Aircrafts require more expensive material and would likely only cater to a select group of consumers due to a high price threshold.'

Air travel also faces many more safety concerns. Automakers interested in developing flying cars would be forced to meet significantly more safety restrictions. Regulations for safe air travel with flying cars could take years to be put in motion.

Drone technology could be a stepping stone to flying cars. Volkswagen also plans to develop a drone that can be licensed out, the head of Volkswagen in China, Stephan Wöllenstein, said Tuesday in an interview on LinkedIn.

Flying vehicles could be commercially available within a few years. Several companies have looked into producing flying electric jets and air taxis. 

Over 100 different electric jets are in development worldwide, including plans from companies like Toyota, Airbus, and Boeing. Hyundai and Uber have also teamed up to develop an electric air-taxi service.

In January, air taxi startup Lilium announced plans to build over 10 landing spots for their flying electric jets called "vertiports." Lilium plans to have the air taxis fully commercially operational by 2025.

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