The flying car has been a dangling carrot in front of consumers for over half a century, and George Jetson’s flying car has been an unfulfilled promise for generations. However, a new partnership between Porsche and Boeing may change that one day down the road. Maybe.
Porsche and Boeing have signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” to explore “the premium urban air mobility market.” The partnership will create a team that will work “to address various aspects of urban air mobility.” The team will analyze the market potential for premium vehicles and how people could use them. But there’s more to the partnership than just exploring the idea.
Porsche, Boeing, and Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing subsidiary, along with Porsche Engineering Services and Studio F.A. Porsche, will build and test a prototype of a fully electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle. Vertical take-off and landing vehicles have been around for a while – think helicopters and Harriers.
The idea of a flying car sounds terrific. Take off from home and buzz to work, school, or wherever straight as the crow flies. Congested intersections are gone. Car crashes that clog highways are a thing of the past. The idea is good if you don't think about it too much; it’s the actual real-world experiences that remain uncertain.
Porsche’s move into the “premium urban air mobility market,” which sounds like a market for wealthy people who don’t want to be reminded poor people exist, is bolstered by a 2018 study by Porsche Consulting that sees the market growing after 2025. The study also concluded that air transportation could transport people “more quickly and efficiently” than our current means of getting around.
Flying cars remain a novel idea and one that will likely come and go for another half-century, at least. Companies have made bold promises about the future of flying cars in the past, and you know how that has turned out. Developing a vertical take-off and landing vehicle is only one part of the long-promised world of flying cars. Regulations, laws, safety standards – those all need to be decided, too. No one wants to open that can of worms yet.
Porsche and Boeing to Partner on Premium Urban Air Mobility Market
"Porsche is looking to enhance its scope as a sports car manufacturer by becoming a leading brand for premium mobility. In the longer term, this could mean moving into the third dimension of travel," says Detlev von Platen, Member of the Executive Board for Sales and Marketing at Porsche AG. "We are combining the strengths of two leading global companies to address a potential key market segment of the future."
As part of the partnership, the companies will create an international team to address various aspects of urban air mobility, including analysis of the market potential for premium vehicles and possible use cases.
Boeing, Porsche and Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences are also developing a concept for a fully electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle. Engineers from both companies, as well as Porsche subsidiaries Porsche Engineering Services GmbH and Studio F.A. Porsche, will implement and test a prototype.
"This collaboration builds on our efforts to develop a safe and efficient new mobility ecosystem, and provides an opportunity to investigate the development of a premium urban air mobility vehicle with a leading automotive brand," said Steve Nordlund, Vice President and General Manager of Boeing NeXt, an organization that is laying the foundation for a next-generation mobility ecosystem in which autonomous and piloted vehicles can safely coexist. "Porsche and Boeing together bring precision engineering, style and innovation to accelerate urban air mobility worldwide."
A 2018 study by Porsche Consulting forecasts that the urban air mobility market will pick up speed after 2025. The study also indicates that urban air mobility solutions will transport passengers more quickly and efficiently than current conventional means of terrestrial transport, at a lower cost and with greater flexibility.
Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As the top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Boeing employs more than 150,000 people worldwide and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.