Japan’s Suzuki, SkyDrive sign deal to develop, market ‘flying cars’

FILE PHOTO: A SkyDrive flying car is pictured at CES 2022 in Las Vegas
FILE PHOTO: An attendee checks out a zero-emissions SkyDrive flying car during CES 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/

March 22, 2022

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corp and ‘flying car’ firm SkyDrive Inc said on Tuesday they have signed a deal to team up in research, development and marketing of electric, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

In a joint statement, the two companies said they will also work to open up new markets with an initial focus on India, where Suzuki has a roughly half share of the auto market. Suzuki announced on Sunday it plans to invest 104.4 billion rupees ($1.37 billion) in its India factory to produce electric vehicles and batteries.

The companies didn’t disclose details of investments in their partnership, nor outline any production timetable or target.

Founded in 2018, Tokyo-headquartered SkyDrive counts big Japan businesses like trading house Itochu Corp, tech firm NEC Corp and a unit of energy company Eneos Holdings Inc among its main shareholders. In 2020 it raised 5.1 billion yen ($42 million) in total in Series B funds, according to its website.

SkyDrive is currently engaged in the development of a compact, two-seating electric-powered flying car with plans for full-scale production. The statement did not say whether Suzuki would be working on this specific vehicle.

The company, which is also developing cargo drones, aims to launch a ‘flying car’ service in Osaka in 2025 when the Japanese city hosts the World Expo.

For Suzuki, the partnership will add ‘flying cars’ as a fourth mobility business, in addition to automobiles, motorcycles and outboard motors, the statement said.

($1 = 120.4500 yen)

(Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)