While there has been a lot of boost over the future of electric vertical takeoff and landing craft (eVTOL) for use as air taxis in cities, It hasn’t been seen much in the way of an idea from carmakers. They’re too focused on producing electric cars and trying to catch Tesla. Yet, Volkswagen recently surprised us with a statement showing its take on it.
Volkswagen Group China started a Vertical Mobility project in 2020, to examine the next generation of mobility options, including the urban air mobility market and extending city traffic into airspace. After thorough research, concept development, and prototyping, the team has finished its first validation version, V.MO. The “Flying Tiger,” owing to its unique black and gold paintwork, was dubbed the first prototype after it was launched in the Year of the Tiger.
“Through this pilot project, we are bringing Volkswagen’s long tradition of precision engineering, design, and innovation to the next level, by developing a premium product that will serve the vertical mobility needs of our future tech savvy Chinese customers,” said Volkswagen Group China‘s CEO, Dr. Stephan Wöllenstein
“This is a pioneering project which our young team of Chinese experts started from scratch – they are working with new design concepts and materials while developing new safety standards, disrupting and innovating every step of the way. The launch of this stunning validation model – the V.MO – is the first of many remarkable milestones on our exciting journey towards urban air travel, and a perfect example of our ‘From China, For China’ mission. Our long-term aim is to industrialize this concept and, like a ‘Flying Tiger’, break new ground in this emerging and fast-evolving new mobility market.”
Volkswagen-China is developing domestic research and software expertise to react faster to customer demands and notably accelerate innovation. The Vertical Mobility initiative calls for multidisciplinary thinking in a new area, and the Group developed a team of young, domestic experts to push it forward. They’ve received support from Chinese collaborators, including Hunan Sunward Technology, a subsidiary of the Sunward group based in Hunan. The company specializes in establishing, marketing, and servicing aviation products.
Air mobility is a fast-growing industry that plans to use airspace for short- and medium-distance connections, especially between and above major cities. In the congested megacities of China, it will have an important effect on the future of urban and intercity transportation. V.MO is possible to be marketed as a premium product for high-net-worth Chinese tech-savvy consumers, like VIP air shuttle services, in the first period of its commercial consumption.
VTOL air cars will be able to transport people faster and more effectively than traditional modes of terrestrial transportation of today, with higher flexibility. Volkswagen Group China will work with Chinese authorities to acquire certification as the Vertical Mobility project develops.
While the concept is far away from large-scale use in cities, this does give us a glance into the future of air mobility.