AutosJapan's flying cars. Several projects underway

Japan's flying cars. Several projects underway

SkyDrive SD-05
SkyDrive SD-05
Images source: © Autokult | Szymon Jasina
7:49 PM EDT, October 27, 2023

Although we've carried dreams of flying cars for around 50 years, they are seemingly further from reality than ever. However, the Japanese beg to differ. At the Japan Mobility Show, a plethora of these vehicles are on display. But do they fulfill our imagined expectations?

The transition from the Tokyo Motor Show to the Japan Mobility Show was not serendipitous. The Tokyo exhibition, formerly dedicated to cars and motorcycles, now incorporates a wide range of transportation modes. Among these, the "flying car" concepts were a standout, even if the name may be somewhat misleading. They are essentially compact, personal electric vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing.

One of the earliest such Japanese vehicles projected to hit the market is the collaborative result of SkyDrive and Suzuki. Their model, the SD-05, encompasses as many as 12 propellers, devised to ensure excellent maneuverability. This compact aircraft is devised for personal transport over short distances.

This feature is crucial as the initial range will be approximately 9 miles (converted from 15km). As such, it's not a replacement for a plane or a helicopter, but rather an efficient method of commuting short distances such as from your workplace to home, thereby evading traffic. Tomohiro Fukuzawa, the Chief of SkyDrive, promises an increasing range in consonance with advancements in battery technology.

As you might expect, such luxury comes with a hefty price tag. The estimated price of the SD-05 will be around 1.5 million dollars, positioning it as an alternative to high-end limousines. Intriguingly, this flying vehicle will be lighter than many electric cars. However, a spacious cabin is not on the cards - the load capacity is approximately 595 pounds (converted from 270kg). Production is planned to commence in spring 2024.

Honda eVTOL
Honda eVTOL© Autokult | Szymon Jasina

Suzuki was not the sole auto brand showcasing a "flying car”. Honda also exhibited a scale concept featuring a vehicle with an aptly descriptive name, eVTOL, which signifies 'electric vertical take-off and landing'. Having also ventured into more traditional aviation, a mock-up of a Honda private jet was also featured at the Tokyo exhibition.

HondaJet© Autokult | Szymon Jasina

However, the most visually striking prototype was debuted by Subaru. Their 6-rotor Air Mobility Concept bears the resemblance of a car, only with propellers instead of wheels. Despite its appealing aesthetics, this project remains a concept, with no definitive plans for Subaru to produce such a flying vehicle.

Subaru Air Mobility Concept
Subaru Air Mobility Concept© Autokult | Szymon Jasina

One thing is clear - soon, Japanese businesspeople will be trading in their limousines for "flying cars" like the SD-05. But will these innovative vehicles capture the interests of the wealthiest, fulfilling years of dreams? Time will tell.

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