Flying cars still don’t seem close, but the hype doesn’t stop – –

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Flying cars still don’t seem close, but the hype doesn’t stop – –


Illustration for the article titled Flying Cars Still Don't Look Close But The Hype Doesn't End

photo: Opener

Every few months, or every few weeks, a company or publication will start talking about vehicles called “flying cars”, and they will briefly revert to a thing, even if there is no such thing. I’m afraid the time has come again.

Saturday, the New York Times profiled flying car start-up Opener in a story called “What is a flying car?” Put together the usual quotes and caveats, except this time the flying cars are kind of a ‘movement’:

“Our dream is to free the world from traffic,” said Sebastian Thrun, another engineer at the heart of this movement.

This dream, most experts agree, is far from reality. But the idea is gaining ground. Dozens of companies are now building these planes, and three recently agreed to go public in deals that value them up to $ 6 billion. For years people love [Marcus Leng, a Canadian inventor] and Mr. Thrun have kept their prototypes hidden from the rest of the world – few people have seen them, let alone stolen in – but they are now starting to raise the curtain.

Mr Leng’s company, Opener, is building a single-person plane for use in rural areas – essentially a private flying car for the wealthy – which could start selling this year. Others are building bigger vehicles that they hope to roll out as city air taxis as early as 2024 – an Uber for the skies. Some are designing vehicles capable of flying unmanned.

The NYT goes into the details, which is that Opener’s BlackFly plane flies about 25 miles per charge and will cost in the low six figures at least. But also that these numbers will eventually improve one day. There are also regulators to deal with (possibly), but the flying car folks don’t think that’s insurmountable either.

And then there are startups that look like simple barkers, like Joby, which has the Joby Aircraft, which is essentially an all-electric helicopter that he plans to use in cities with pilots as a taxi service. It certainly looks like something that already exists (here in New York you can pay a company called Lame $ 795 to go to the Hamptons by helicopter) but Joby insists there is a trillion dollars to be had. Finally.

In a presentation to investors, Joby touted a trillion dollar market opportunity.

After launching in one city, the company says it will quickly expand to others, bringing in $ 2 billion in revenue and more than $ 1 billion in gross profits in two years, according to its presentation to investors. By then, he will lose over $ 150 million each year.

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If someone wants to give me $ 150 million a year, I too promise to make huge profits. My Twitter DMs are open.

Either way, established automakers are also prone to hype when it comes to flying cars, air taxis, or urban air mobility solutions, or whatever you name them. . Pick up Hyundai on Monday, by Reuters:

Hyundai is ahead of the schedule it previously set for the deployment of urban air mobility vehicles, also known as flying cars, said Jose Munoz, Hyundai’s global chief operating officer, in a broadcast interview. Monday at the Reuters Events Car of the Future conference. .

Munoz, who is also CEO of Hyundai North America, previously said urban air taxis will be operational at major US airports by 2028, possibly sooner. The executive told Reuters on Monday that it could possibly happen before 2025.

“We see this market as a significant growth opportunity,” Munoz said.

One thing that is rarely talked about in these discussions is the willingness of many people to get on small planes on a regular basis. You always assume that there are a lot of people who will, and that may be true – I’m sure these companies have a lot of market research – but, as someone who has flown in a helicopter, I do not know. It’s not that small planes feel unsafe, exactly, it’s mostly that they force you to face the fact that you’re really sitting on a chair high in the sky.

Will we even have air taxis by the end of the current decade? Companies that try to make them believe so, although they have a big reason – attracting new investment – for saying so. For the rest of us, smart money is probably going elsewhere.

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