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Marubeni aims to put electric flying cars in Japan’s skies

  • September 25, 2021
  • , Nikkei Asia , 4:36 a.m.
  • English Press

TAKEHIRO HASEGAWA, Nikkei staff writer

 

TOKYO — Trading house Marubeni has doubled down on its effort to get carbon-free flying cars off the ground in Japan, announcing a partnership with U.K.-based Vertical Aerospace Group on Friday to explore how to introduce the vehicles in the country.

 

Marubeni also agreed to a conditional preorder option of up to 200 Vertical Aerospace vehicles, said the U.K. developer of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVOTL). Unlike conventional planes, eVTOLs do not require a runway and can be used even in areas without existing airports or heliports.

 

The two will research infrastructure requirements for commercial service, including takeoff and landing ports. They will study potential issues that could arise in aircraft certification and cooperate in communications with government agencies. The companies will start by jointly analyzing the movement of people through mobile handset data to predict demand and propose service routes.

 

 

The deal will accelerate Marubeni’s efforts to turn flying cars into a commercial reality in Japan. It is working with U.S. eVTOL startup Lift Aircraft to conduct test flights as early as next year, with plans to operate the vehicles at the 2025 Expo in Osaka.

 

Vertical Aerospace has won orders from such carriers as American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic Airways, as well as aircraft leasing company Avolon. With the Marubeni deal, the U.K. startup now boasts industry-leading bookings of 1,350 vehicles, including preorders.

 

The company plans to go public in the U.S. through merging with a special-purpose acquisition company.

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