Euisun Chung, executive vice chairman of Hyundai, expects commercialisation of urban air mobility service in 2028, saying it takes time for laws and systems to be in place.
Hyundai is the first carmaker to join Uber’s air taxi project, which also counts Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences among its partner firms.
Hyundai will produce and deploy the vehicles while Uber will provide aerial ride-share services.
Uber, which has partnered with eight companies on its air taxi project, however, acknowledged it would be “unrealistic” to expect all its partners to go to market at the same time.
“Our plans for our limited commercial operations in 2023 will likely involve other partners,” said Sarah Abboud, Communications Manager at Uber.
Hyundai unveiled a concept electric aircraft developed with Uber at CES, with the self-flying electric car designed to carry up to four passengers with a pilot and fly on trips of up to 100 km.
“The overall cost to produce and operate UAM (urban air mobility) vehicles should be really low enough for everyone to enjoy the freedom to fly,” said Shin Jai-won, head of urban air mobility division at Hyundai.
Air taxis come in several shapes and sizes; electric motors replace jet engines, aircraft have rotating wings and, in some cases, rotors in place of propellers.
The urban flight market will exceed the current number of commercial airplanes flying around the world; about 25,000 according to Hyundai’s Shin, a former NASA engineer hired by the automaker last year.
Last year, Hyundai pledged to invest 1.8 trillion won ($2.2 billion) in what it called “urban air mobility” by 2025.
Boeing has said it is working with Volkswagen’s sports car brand, Porsche, to develop a concept electric flying vehicle that can transport people in urban areas.