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Flying car startup and Suzuki join forces with eye on India

Japanese automaker sees VTOLs easing traffic in its biggest market

SkyDrive shows off its flying car in August 2020. (Photo courtesy of SkyDrive)

TOKYO -- Suzuki Motor announced Tuesday that is teaming up with Tokyo-based startup SkyDrive to bring flying cars to market.

The companies will consider collaborating on research and development and on developing mass-production capabilities. They will also weigh a joint push into India, Suzuki's largest market.

Founded in 2018, SkyDrive counts trading house Itochu among its investors. It is one of Japan's leading players in vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, and conducted a public demonstration of a manned VTOL flight in 2020.

SkyDrive is now working on a two-seat model, and aims to offer a flying car service at the Osaka Expo in 2025. Suzuki will contribute its expertise in developing and manufacturing smaller vehicles, but will not invest in the startup.

Suzuki looks to eventually sell flying cars in India as a way to ease congestion, which is a major problem in the country. The company currently generates around half of its unit sales in India.

Other Japanese automakers are also making inroads into VTOLs. Honda Motor aims to commercialize in the 2030s a hybrid model with a range of around 400 km, which can be used to transport passengers between cities in North America. Toyota Motor invested $394 million in U.S. startup Joby Aviation in 2020.

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