Inside Hyundai's flying car concept that could hit the market by 2028

Inside Hyundai’s flying car concept: Butterfly-inspired aircraft will feature five plant-based leather seats, built-in charging stations and overhead ‘light therapy’ – and could hit the market by 2028

  • A series of new design images offer the public a sneak peak inside Hyundai’s Supernal S-A1 flying car concept
  • South Korean carmaker revealed its initial eVTOL vehicle cabin concept at Farnborough International Airshow
  • The all-electric butterfly-inspired aircraft could carry up to four passengers on journeys across cities by 2028
  • It is expected to be able to fly around 60 miles at speeds of up to 180 mph, while cruising at up to 2,000 feet 

Hyundai has revealed a sneak peak of what it will look like inside its new flying car concept — with plant-based leather seats, overhead ‘light therapy’ and built-in charging stations.

The South Korean carmaker, which created a new spin-off company called Supernal to design the butterfly-inspired aircraft, could make it available to the public as early as 2028.

It revealed its initial eVTOL vehicle cabin concept at the Farnborough International Airshow.

Hyundai and Supernal have previously said the S-A1 flying taxi under construction is a ‘personal air vehicle’ that could carry up to four passengers on journeys across cities.

The all-electric aircraft will initially be piloted, but could be flown autonomously in the future, at which point passenger capacity could potentially increase to six.

It is expected to be able to fly around 60 miles at speeds of up to 180 mph, while cruising at up to 2,000 feet.

Sneak peak: Hyundai has revealed a glimpse of what it will look like inside its new flying car concept — with plant-based leather seats, overhead ‘light therapy’ and built-in charging stations

The cabin features ergonomically contoured seats — to offer a cocoon-like environment for passengers — and deployable seat consoles which mimic those seen in cars

It is made from reinforced thermoplastic, durable plant-based leather, recycled plastic fabric and ‘responsibly sourced woods’, according to Hyundai

Hyundai’s Supernal S-A1 flying car concept 

Hyundai’s enormous Supernal S-A1 flying car concept could carry up to four passengers on journeys across cities.

The aircraft will initially be piloted, but could be flown autonomously in the future, at which point passenger capacity could increase to six.

The all-electric aircraft is expected to be able to fly around 60 miles at speeds of up to 180 mph, while cruising at up to 2,000 feet.

However, it’s likely going to be a while before we see it take to the skies, with Supernal claiming that it will be ready in 2028.

A team of engineers and designers took a leaf out of the automotive industry’s book to create the light-weight interior cabin.

It is made from reinforced thermoplastic, durable plant-based leather, recycled plastic fabric and ‘responsibly sourced woods’, according to Hyundai. 

The cabin also features ergonomically contoured seats — to offer a cocoon-like environment for passengers — and deployable seat consoles which mimic those seen in cars.

These provide a charging station and stowage compartment for personal items. 

Grab handles built into the cabin doors and seatbacks help passengers climb in and out of the flying car, while a combination of lighting — including overhead lights inspired by car sunroofs — adjusts with the various stages of flight to emulate a ‘light therapy’ effect.

‘The Supernal eVTOL vehicle draws on the competence of the Hyundai Motor Group and the skillset of experienced automotive designers, which allowed us to develop a new air mobility concept that is not only safe and rational but also highly emotional,’ said Luc Donckerwolke, chief creative officer of Hyundai Motor Group. 

US-based Supernal hopes the battery-powered eVTOL vehicle, which is designed for intra-city passenger journeys, will hit the market in 2028.

On top of that, it is also developing a hydrogen-powered mid-sized vehicle for regional — city-to-city — cargo and passenger journeys, which it hopes will be operational in the 2030s.

Supernal also said it will be working to integrate the planned craft into existing transit networks and create necessary infrastructure. 

This might include so-called vertiports — transport hubs for flying taxis. 

Such a hub became a reality in the UK in April, with the opening of the Air-One site in Coventry.

Air-One is a centre for drones and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, including flying cars and taxis, and will serve as a blueprint for more than 200 vertiports planned worldwide over the next five years, according to Urban-Air Port, the UK-based developer of Air-One.

Hyundai first revealed its concept for a flying taxi, the S-A1, at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  

The firm also announced at that time a partnership with rideshare app Uber, which has forged links with several other companies to work on developing air taxis. 

‘Hyundai Motor Group is working to leverage synergies between automotive’s high-rate manufacturing capabilities and aerospace’s high certification standards to build the foundation for everyday use of passenger and cargo air vehicles,’ said Jaiwon Shin, president of Hyundai Motor Group and CEO of Supernal. 

‘In order for Advanced Air Mobility to become a wide-spread mode of transportation, every detail — from the passenger experience to regulations and infrastructure — needs to be addressed from the start and work in lockstep with one another. 

‘Leveraging Hyundai Motor Group’s mobility capabilities, Supernal is investing time and resources upfront to ensure the industry can scale to the masses in the coming decades and reach its exciting potential.’

WHAT TYPE OF FLYING TAXIS COULD WE EXPECT TO SEE IN THE FUTURE?

Advances in electric motors, battery technology and autonomous software has triggered an explosion in the field of electric air taxis.

Larry Page, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet, has poured millions into aviation start-ups Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, which are both striving to create all-electric flying cabs.

Kitty Hawk is believed to be developing a flying car and has already filed more than a dozen different aircraft registrations with the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA.

Page, who co-founded Google with Sergey Brin back in 1998, has personally invested $100 million (£70 million) into the two companies, which have yet to publicly acknowledge or demonstrate their technology.

AirSpaceX unveiled its latest prototype, Mobi-One, at the North American International Auto Show in early 2018. Like its closest rivals, the electric aircraft is designed to carry two to four passengers and is capable of vertical take-off and landing

Airbus is also hard at work on an all-electric, vertical-take-off-and-landing craft, with its latest Project Vahana prototype, branded Alpha One, successfully completing its maiden test flight in February 2018.

The self-piloted helicopter reached a height of 16 feet (five metres) before successfully returning to the ground. In total, the test flight lasted 53 seconds.

Airbus previously shared a well-produced concept video, showcasing its vision for Project Vahana.

The footage reveals a sleek self-flying aircraft that seats one passenger under a canopy that retracts in similar way to a motorcycle helmet visor.

Airbus Project Vahana prototype, branded Alpha One, successfully completed its maiden test flight in February 2018. The self-piloted helicopter reached a height of 16 feet (five metres) before successfully returning to the ground. In total, the test flight lasted 53 seconds

AirSpaceX is another company with ambitions to take commuters to the skies.

The Detroit-based start-up has promised to deploy 2,500 aircrafts in the 50 largest cities in the United States by 2026.

AirSpaceX unveiled its latest prototype, Mobi-One, at the North American International Auto Show in early 2018.

Like its closest rivals, the electric aircraft is designed to carry two to four passengers and is capable of vertical take-off and landing.

AirSpaceX has even included broadband connectivity for high speed internet access so you can check your Facebook News Feed as you fly to work.

Aside from passenger and cargo services, AirSpaceX says the craft can also be used for medical and casualty evacuation, as well as tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).

Even Uber is working on making its ride-hailing service airborne.

Dubbed Uber Elevate, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tentatively discussed the company’s plans during a technology conference in January 2018.

‘I think it’s going to happen within the next 10 years,’ he said.

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