Porsche is the latest German car company to bet on airborne transport in cities of the future.
The carmaker announced on Thursday that it has signed an understanding to work together with aircraft-maker Boeing and subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to explore the development a prototype for an electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft. Porsche said it is looking into the possibilities of future long-term cooperation.
Detlev von Platen, Porsche executive board member for sales and marketing, said that Porsche “is looking to enhance its scope as a sports car manufacturer by becoming a leading brand for premium mobility” and that in the longer term “this could mean moving into the third dimension of travel.”
“This would be a fully electric aircraft that takes off and lands vertically,” a Porsche spokesperson said. “We are currently planning on a 2-seater with different flight modes: from manual to autonomous.” The company will only present a product when it has been fully developed, and at the moment a “first flight of a full-scale prototype is planned for 2020.”
Part of the cooperation with Boeing will involve researching the future market potential of airborne transport. A team of experts from both companies, with bases in the US, Germany, and Switzerland will explore the technical and business development aspects of urban air mobility.
Porsche Consulting predicts that the urban air-transport market will start to really gather speed from 2025 onwards.
“This collaboration builds on our efforts to develop a safe and efficient new mobility ecosystem and provides an opportunity to investigate the development of a premium urban air mobility vehicle with a leading automotive brand,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt.
Daimler invested €25 million ($27.5m) into Germany-based flying taxi firm Volocopter in 2017. Volocopter, which is planning to launch its air taxi in Singapore on 22 October, is competing with the likes of Airbus and German startup Lilium. Techcrunch reported today that Lilium, whose backers include Tencent, may soon look to raise up to $500m in the race to be first in the skies.