TOKYO — Park24, the largest car park operator in Japan, will convert a parking facility into a takeoff and landing base for flying cars in the western Kansai region in 2025 as part of the World Expo, Nikkei has learned.
More companies are entering the business of operating flying cars, which refer to electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing aircraft mostly on autopilot, but the lack of landing sites has become an issue. This move by Park24, which runs about 20,000 parking facilities, is expected to spur other operators into entering the space.
Park24 will develop a takeoff and landing base in a corner of a parking lot it manages in the Kansai region, close to Yumeshima, a man-made island that will be the site for the World Expo 2025. It will adhere to guidelines for such sites drawn up in Europe and the U.S., with the aim of eventually expanding the business throughout Japan.
Park24 will be the first Japanese parking lot operator to enter the flying car business. It will work with Skyports, a U.K.-based company that has developed and operates such a base in Europe.
The Kansai lot will be able to accommodate aircraft of various sizes, from small ones that can take one or two passengers to those that have a five-person capacity that are suitable for longer flights.
European guidelines stipulate that such bases must be at least twice the size of the aircraft they are catering for in terms of both length and width for safety and regulatory reasons. Generally, an area of approximately 3,000 sq. meters is required, and not all of the parking lots operated by Park24 are suitable for this purpose.
The development of flying cars is accelerating, especially among European and U.S. manufacturers. In Japan, ANA Holdings and Toyota Motor have begun studying the possibility of collaborating with emerging U.S. manufacturers to launch a flight service in time for the 2025 expo. Japan Airlines is also aiming to launch the service in the same year.
On the other hand, it is difficult to secure takeoff and landing bases in densely populated areas. If existing parking lots can be effectively utilized, the number of such sites can be expected to expand.
Flying cars do not require runways and are expected to reduce travel time compared with car travel. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is aiming for widespread use of flying cars by the 2030s.
The global market for flying vehicles is expected to exceed 120 trillion yen ($946 billion) by 2050, according to Yano Research Institute.