Suzuki Motor Corporation has signed an agreement with SkyDrive Inc to manufacture the latter’s ‘flying cars’.
Production is set to begin around March-May 2024 at Suzuki Group’s plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.
SkyDrive will establish a wholly owned subsidiary that will manufacture its “flying cars” – technically eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft.
It aims to obtain its airworthiness certification by 2025 followed by a type certification for mass production and delivery in 2026.
It will also seek to obtain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) type certification to start operations in the United States.
Suzuki will provide the SkyDrive subsidiary with resources to begin manufacturing, including a workforce.
Suzuki says specific terms of the agreement will continue to be discussed and agreed separately.
Shortly after the announcement SkyDrive released the latest updates on its eVTOL which includes a larger body, the ability to carry three passengers including one pilot, and a 15km electric battery range.
Dubbed “SKYDRIVE”, the production model will also have 12 units of motors/rotors and have a maximum speed of 100km/h.
The aircraft has the ability to land and take off vertically, which the company says will allow it to be used at heliports in cities.
“I’m very excited to be working together with SkyDrive. We will make ambitious strides toward the development of products of superior value, so that we can contribute to the realization of air mobility, which utilizes the sky for daily transportation,” said Suzuki president Toshihiro Suzuki.
“At Suzuki, all manufacturing activities are based on a concept, ‘Smaller, Fewer, Lighter, Shorter, and Neater’ and SkyDrive is developing lightweight air mobilities,” said SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa.
“Suzuki and SkyDrive have been collaborating since March 2022 and we are very excited that SkyDrive will utilize the production facility of Suzuki to build our eVTOL ‘SKYDRIVE.’
Suzuki isn’t the first automotive brand to invest in so-called flying cars.
Hyundai is continuing its investment in advanced air mobility (AAM) through firm Supernal with the aim of creating an entire AAM ecosystem.
In 2017, Chinese brand Geely acquired American flying car startup Terrafugia, while fellow Chinese carmaker Xpeng filed a patent in 2022 for a rotor-folding mechanism which will sit on top of a vehicle.
In 2021, Xpeng announced it will launch its first mass-produced flying car in 2024.
Both Xpeng and Geely will encounter headwinds as they head towards series production, chiefly the legislation – or lack thereof – surrounding flying cars.