Hyundai has been teasing an aircraft concept over the past month, and now a prototype is on display at CES 2020. This is a full-scale eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle - or a flying car - that the company plans to produce for Uber’s upcoming air taxi network.
Uber has been working on flying taxis since at least 2016. So, this news from Hyundai is a pretty big deal, because it gives the ride-hailing company and its lofty Uber Elevate plans some legitimacy. It's as though the long-awaited air taxi service could really launch sometime soon.
Uber wants to start test flights for Uber Elevate in 2020, with the goal of finally launching service in 2023 in Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles. It plans to even offer helicopter rides from lower Manhattan to John F Kennedy International Airport.
Hyundai’s prototype aircraft features two electric-powered tilt-rotors for the tail, as well as 10 small rotors around the cabin. Made to take off vertically and transition to a normal wing lift, the flying car can resume a vertical flight position when landing. It'll seat five people and has a speed of 180 mph (290 km/h) and an altitude of around 1,000 to 2,000 feet (300 to 600 meters) when cruising.
During peak hours, it will need about seven minutes for recharging, giving it a range of 60 miles (100 kilometers) between charges.
Hyundai also showed off concepts for a landing hub and a Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV) for ground transportation. Hyundai plans to produce and deploy all these assets, while Uber will handle ground operations and, obviously, its app.
Keep in mind Uber has similar aircraft deals in place with other Joby, Jaunt, Embraer, Pipistrel, Karem Aircraft, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Bell.