During a presentation at CES 2021, General Motors unveiled renderings and animations of an all-electric, Cadillac-branded personal aircraft. The new electric vertical take-off and landing flying car concept is part of the nascent air taxi scene that has seen several automotive brands look skyward for new applications of electric vehicle technology.
GM says the Cadillac eVTOL concept is a four-rotor aircraft that will take propulsion from a 90-kWh EV motor and can travel at speeds of up to 56 mph, or 90 kilometers per hour. Outside of those small technical tidbits, there’s very little to go on. GM hasn’t committed to production, or even elaborated on a potential timeline in which we could see these eVTOL flying taxis scooting around our urban skies. The renderings and animations show a small single or two-seat drone style aircraft designed for short urban jumps.
The eVTOL flying car would likely work hand-in-hand with the Cadillac branded pod concept that was also unveiled yesterday by GM’s global design chief, Michael Simcoe. The pod car is part of Cadillac’s Halo portfolio, and it shows a future full of relaxation in the pod’s designer living space. Key elements include a wrap-around couch and wood flooring, along with biometric sensors to read passengers’ vital signs which will allow the vehicle to adjust lighting, climate, or even release pleasant scents into the cockpit.
Scenes from GM’s animation indicate the pod car would manage the “first and last mile” of these urban jaunts, while the eVTOL would handle larger chunks of the journey.
Aside from the Cadillac eVTOL concept flying car, GM isn’t the only one who unveiled a vision for this space at CES 2021, with cross-town rival FCA announcing a partnership with Archer to build eVTOL air taxis starting in 2023. Archer’s first eVTOL aircraft is expected to fully unveiled later this year and will include cockpit design elements from FCA. Other automakers, like Hyundai and Aston Martin, have also indicated an interest in this new mobility frontier.
To some these flying car ambitions from GM, FCA and others may appear to be the next great business opportunity. However, we can’t help but draw parallels with what we currently see in cities like São Paulo, Brazil. The city, with one of the highest crime rates in the world, also has the largest fleet of helicopters in the world, recording around 700 flights per day, taking off and landing on 100 helipads. Of course, the helicopters utilized by wealthy elites, largely to avoid interaction with far poorer and more desperate people down below.