Volkswagen is conducting a feasibility study in China about flying cars, Europe’s biggest automaker said on Tuesday, joining a growing number of companies looking into the potential technology.
“Beyond autonomous driving the concept of vertical mobility could be a next step to take our mobility approach into the future, especially in the technically affine Chinese market,” the German group said in a statement.
“Therefore we are investigating potential concepts and partners in a feasibility study to identify the possibility to industrialize this approach.”
In an interview here with Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess on Linkedin, the carmaker’s China head Stephan Woellenstein said the company wanted to develop a drone that could be licensed, giving it a way to participate in this future market.
China is the world’s biggest autos market, and also accounts for the largest part of Volkswagen’s sales.
The news comes as companies from start-ups to other global carmakers are racing to develop commercial “robo-taxis”, hoping to cash in on a market Morgan Stanley says could be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040.
In addition to big players such as Volkswagen and Airbus, groups including U.S.-based Joby, Germany’s Lilium, and Volocopter, whose financial backers include Daimler and Intel, are pursuing such plans.
Munich-based Lilium said in November it would set up its first U.S. hub near Orlando, putting more than 20 million Floridians within range of its winged electric aircraft that can take off vertically and cover 300 km (185 miles).