Published On: Mon, Jun 29th, 2020

The Two Flying Car Business Models of 2020

Flying cars might not be exactly what you imagined. For one, the primary business model for this innovation revolves around autonomous piloting.

There are two main business models in this budding field. The most relevant to you and me is an airborne autonomous taxi service. Companies in this space include Uber and Hyundai. The shared product these two transportation giants are collaborating on is called the Elevate.

Flying Car Business

Flying Taxis

In certain parts of Manhattan, Uber users can open their app to find a very interesting option. Uber Copter. This service is somewhat similar to what flying cars might look like in our near future.

One of the main differences between Uber Copter and Uber Air, as the company has chosen to call its flying car service is that Uber Air vehicles are to be fully autonomous.

There are 5 levels of autonomous driving. As of January 2020, full level 5 autonomous vehicles had been approved in all 50 states. Level five autonomous basically means the vehicle doesn’t even need a steering wheel. Control freaks beware.

This is important for the future of flying cars because it means that these vehicles are highly specialized for their market niche. They are not meant to be bought and sold like we buy and sell regular cars, rather they are meant to be rented from rideshare companies for individual trips. In other words, you don’t drive a flying taxi.

These vehicles are like a drone, except you sit in it. Uber-Hyundai’s joint project, the Elevate, intend to unveil their Vertical Takeoff and Landing vehicle (VTOL) with an unexpectedly affordable pricing structure. The idea is to begin by charging Uber Black prices, but with longer treks and later drop the pricing to UberX levels!

Just think about the ramifications for parking lots, real estate, civil engineering, and traffic.

All of a sudden, a lot of real estate that is not presently will become accessible. The rooftops of the future will look very different from what we are used to today. It’s easy to imagine a world where a third of them are gardens, a third are solar panel crops, and yet another third are VTOL/helipads.

Private Flying Cars

If you are a 1 percenter, you are in luck! For the small price of $400,000 you can own your own flying car! This business model is a bit more straightforward than the flying taxi model, but in some cases it can require a private or commercial pilot certificate.

Surprised at the predicted price for a flying car of your own? Terrafugia’s model, which was among the first flying cars to be released on the market is not expected to remain a monopoly for long. Chinese company EHang already operates flying taxi drones in Dubai. These drones can carry 220 lbs, cruise at 62 mph, and fly at over 11,000 feet.

The XTI TriFan is a plane/helicopter fusion that illustrates the blurry line between flying car and alternative VTOL aircraft. This project, however, is one of many examples of how the private plane industry is changing to accommodate flying cars. This vehicle uses two gas-turbine engines and rotors as well as wings. It is powered by gasoline as well as battery-electric cells.

These vertical takeoff vehicles look like enormous drones. There are other functional “flying car” models such as Kitty Hawk’s Flyer that are already functional, but most have debilitating limits. The Kitty Hawk can only fly over water, for example.

Conclusion

When the first video of the Terrafugia went viral in 2010, there were a handful of flying car projects worldwide. Today, there are more than 100 flying car projects in the world, with private buyers lined up around the block and ridesharing companies plotting strategies to corner the market.

True flying cars are defined by their ability to drive on land as well as fly through the air. In practice, not all of the vehicles that market themselves as flying cars are quite so practical. The market demands the ability to takeoff from a still position, since most of us don’t have runways in our backyard (and if we did, couldn’t we just buy a small plane?).

With Starlink well on its way to providing the planet with wifi coverage, Playstation building robot companions, and flying cars on the horizon, the life of the Jetsons has never seemed so close.