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

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TOKYO – Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corp and “flying car” firm SkyDrive Inc said on Tuesday they signed a deal to collaborate in research, development and marketing of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL).

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 about half of the car market. Suzuki announced on Sunday that it plans to invest 104.4 billion rupees ($1.37 billion) in its factory in India to produce electric vehicles and batteries.

The companies did not disclose any details about investments in their partnership, nor did they outline a production schedule or target.

Founded in 2018, SkyDrive is headquartered in Tokyo and its major shareholders include major Japanese companies such as trading house Itochu Corp, technology company NEC Corp and a part of energy company Eneos Holdings Inc. In 2020, it raised a total of 5.1 billion yen ($42 million) in Series B funds, according to its website.

SkyDrive is currently developing a two-seat compact, electric-powered flying car with plans for large-scale production. The statement did not say whether Suzuki would be working on this particular vehicle.

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

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For Suzuki, the partnership will add “flying cars” as a fourth mobility company, alongside cars, motorcycles and outboard motors, the statement said.

($1 = 120,4500 yen)

(Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama; editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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