So far it is only a concept but the South Korean giant suggests take-off in 2028 for the eVTOL – electric vertical take-off and landing – machine, now being developed under the brand name Supernal. We agree, they should have stuck to the names of American cities…
Supernal is the latest example of a car-maker aiming for the stars by transmuting from supplier of products to provider of services, or in the jargon, “seamlessly integrated intermodal mobility solutions”. And in the future, that is increasingly seen to mean leaving terra firma behind. There is a lot more room to move up there than there is down here after all.
Supernal says it is developing a family of electric air vehicles of which the SA-1 is the first. Originally shown last year, it is a fixed-wing aircraft with battery-powered propellers that swivel to provide both vertical take-off and landing and level flight, a bit like a giant drone. It would seat four passengers.
Alas, you wouldn’t fly it yourself, that would be left to the pilot. But using autonomous and machine-learning technologies developed within the Hyundai group, the flying taxi would largely fly itself. Journeys would be planned via an app, along the lines of Uber, but Hyundai says you still might have to drive to the ground hub – they are being called “vertiports” – to catch your air taxi. An electric e-scooter could be provided for the last mile.