Exclusive: GM Electric Searches Market For ‘Flying Cars’ – Source

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co GM.N Air is exploring options in the transportation market, including the creation of vehicles known as “flying cars” as part of a push by American automakers to see growth in related transportation markets, from this case Two people familiar said.

Chief executive Mary Bara made her first reference to the Detroit-based GM’s interest in the air taxi market on Monday, saying it fit with the development of electric vehicles (EVs) and its Ultimate Advanced Electric Battery.

“We strongly believe in our EV future and not just for vehicles,” she said at an RBC conference. “The strength and flexibility of our Ultium battery system opens doors” to many uses, he said, “including aerial mobility.”

Air taxis are vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that use electric motors instead of jet engines. Designed to avoid the need for long runways, they have rotating wings and, in some cases, rotors in place of propellers.

Electric air taxis are likely to fly low-level routes, relieving traffic congestion on the roads. But they can also add air traffic congestion as they become more popular.

GM spokesman Stuart Foley declined to elaborate. “This is an area we’re really excited about and seeing.”

GM shares rose 5.4% and gained 1.4% in afternoon trading.

Corporate and private investors have invested at least $ 2.3 billion in more than 100 aerial vehicle startups, including drones and electric air taxis, according to investor website Pitchbook, but the technology still poses significant barriers to commercialization and profitability Is facing

GM is weighing all options – whether manufacture, supply or partner – as it decides whether such automakers have to join Hyundai Motor Company005380.KS, Toyota Motor Corp7203.TDaimler AG DAIGn.DEVolkswagen AGVOWG_p.DE & Geely Automobile 0175.HK Still in the developing market, sources said, who asked not to be identified. GM may make an announcement early next year.

“I’m not surprised that GM and others are paying attention to it,” said investor and corporate advisor Evangelos Simoudis, managing director of Synapus Partners. He said companies like Amazon.com and Walmart are insisting on using package delivery drones, but said that transporting people with flying cars would take too much time to develop as a business.

Sources said GM’s study of the aerial mobility market is part of a push by GM’s Innovation Group to explore other transportation markets in development. The group is led by Alan Wexler, who reports to Bara and was hired in July to the newly created position of senior vice president of innovation and development.

Other efforts generated in the innovation group include the formation of a defense business unit and a $ 214 million contract to build a military carrier for the US Army based on the Chevrolet Colorado pickup, as well as a new mobile app for OnStar members .

Hyundai teamed up with Uber Technologies Inc. UBER.N Promised to develop electric air taxis in January and to invest $ 1.5 billion in urban air mobility by 2025.

Toyota led a $ 590 million investment round in air taxi startup Joby in January, while Daimler and Geely have invested in a Stuttgart-based Volocopter. Volkswagen’s Porsche brand working with BoeingThe restriction Developing a concept electric flying vehicle.

Last year, TeslaTSLA.O CEO Elon Musk called the electric supersonic VTOL a “difficult problem”, and last month called a more powerful battery that could take an electric airplane three to four years away. Musk has said that “many exciting things” will be unveiled on September 22 during Tesla’s Battery Day.

Separately on Tuesday, the World Economic Forum and the City of Los Angeles released a set of principles to support the rollout of urban air mobility in US cities, and a spokesperson for the organization said it would adopt similar roadmaps for other cities. Is interacting with.

Additional reporting by Paul Linnert in Detroit; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio