On March 22, 2022, Suzuki Motor Corporation announced that it was teaming up with fellow Japanese firm SkyDrive to work on all the steps in creating and marketing an electric flying vehicle. While the first thing RideApart readers think of Suzuki for is likely its bikes, the company also makes cars that it sells in a number of worldwide markets outside the U.S. (For those in the U.S. who are unfamiliar, we used to get Suzuki cars, until the company left our market in 2012.)
However, even though Suzuki does make and sell cars in worldwide markets, it doesn’t make flying cars—at least, not yet. That’s where SkyDrive comes in, with creations like the SD-03 electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft seen doing a piloted demo flight in 2020 in this video. The initial focus of this partnership will begin with the Indian market, and go from there. Carbon neutrality is, of course, an important goal that both companies aim to reach.
It’s currently 2022, and the two companies intend to have a working air taxi service in place by the time the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka launches. At present, the dates for that event are scheduled to run from April 13, 2025 through October 13, 2025. If all goes according to plan, then Suzuki and SkyDrive should find ample opportunities to demonstrate what they’ve accomplished together with this project.
While SkyDrive prides itself on being “a leading manufacturer of flying cars in Japan,” it’s currently a small product category—so, the company hopes to gain significant reach in its teamup with Suzuki. Meanwhile, Suzuki hopes to gain a fourth product category for its portfolio, expanding upon its existing automotive, motorcycle, and outboard motor businesses.
If we’re this close to flying cars in 2022, how close are we to flying motorbikes? That’s not clear just yet, but it seems like the lines between different types of flying vehicles and what they’re called by those of us on the ground seem to blur pretty regularly. Some people have already taken issue with SkyDrive’s vehicle being described as a “flying car,” for example, and bringing up Jetpack Aviation’s flying motorcycle concept also results in a whole lot of “that’s not a motorcycle!”
Still, it’s cool to see companies constantly pushing the idea of what’s possible, even if the results don’t always pan out exactly how we want them to. You have to crawl before you can walk, right? Interesting failures—especially if you learn from them—often lead to greater innovations down the line. Development teams just have to get there first.