Japanese automotive and motorcycle giant Suzuki says it is joining forces with aerial vehicle company SkyDrive in the latter’s efforts to produce an electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flying car for urban air mobility uses like air taxis.
The two firms announced their tie-up in a laconic communiqué Tuesday, revealing little detail beyond their objective to develop SkyDrive’s eVTOL flying car concept toward scaled production and marketing. As one of Japan’s top automotive companies, Suzuki’s manufacturing and marketing heft would logically offer its new startup partner serious muscle once the project – now in prototype stage – clears certification and enters the commercial manufacturing phase.
SkyDrive has previously said it is aiming to navigate that process in time to introduce its eVTOL flying car into air taxi service during Osaka’s 2025 World Exposition. It would expand those operations throughout the country after that.
SkyDrive was founded in 2018 by former Toyota executives with the ambition of “leading a once-in-a-century mobility revolution.” Since then, the company has been developing both passenger carrying eVTOL craft, and selling its industrial-grade cargo drones with 30 kg maximum payload capacity.
Last year it announced its application for type certification of its two-seat SD-05 flying car prototype had been accepted by Japanese authorities – the first craft of its kind to reach that milestone in the country, according to the company. That cleared the way for SkyDrive to begin working with authorities on development plans for potential type certification of the planned flying car, which verifies eVTOL craft design, structure, strength, and performance, and evaluates safety and environmental criteria.
In teaming up with SkyDrive, Suzuki appears intent on kicking that development process into higher gear, and providing the startup with considerable industrial and marketing assets when it transitions into production stage.
“SkyDrive and Suzuki will start consideration to collaborate in areas of business and technology that include technology R&D, planning of manufacturing and mass-production systems, development of overseas markets with an initial focus on India, and promotion of efforts to attain carbon neutrality,” the press release said, noting Suzuki’s experience in car, motorcycle, and outboard motor markets. “The partnership with SkyDrive will provide Suzuki with opportunities to explore and potentially add flying cars as a fourth mobility business.”
In addition to its SD-05 prototype, SkyDrive is also working on a SD-XX flying car concept model.