I don’t think anyone saw that coming. Uber has announced they have partnered with Hyundai Motor Company to develop Uber Air Taxi’s as part of their plans for Uber Elevate around the world.

Kicking off in Melbourne in 2023 Uber will be testing the idea that you can jump in an aircraft to get from Tullamarine to the City rather than put up with traffic.

Why Hyundai? Mass Production. While plenty of respected aircraft manufacturers are building Uber Elevate capable vehicles – Hyundai has something they don’t. Mass Production skills and experience.

By partnering with a company capable of mass-producing the aircraft required to make a flying taxi service work, Uber believes the overall cost will be lower, and thus the rides themselves will be cheaper.

Hyundai will build and deploy the aircraft, Uber will provide the airspace support, the ground connections and the overall user experience via their app.

A large scale mock up of the concept is on show at CES in Las Vegas and is set to steal the show when doors open tomorrow morning.

Hyundai’s head of Urban Air Mobility Jaiwon Shin says “Our vision of Urban Air Mobility will transform the concept of urban transportation,”

“We expect UAM to vitalize urban communities and provide more quality time to people. We are confident that Uber Elevate is the right partner to make this innovative product readily available to as many customers as possible.”

Head of Uber’s Elevate program Eric Allison was excited by the scale of the opportunity “Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale. We believe Hyundai has the potential to build Uber Air vehicles at rates unseen in the current aerospace industry, producing high quality, reliable aircraft at high volumes to drive down passenger costs per trip. Combining Hyundai’s manufacturing muscle with Uber’s technology platform represents a giant leap forward for launching a vibrant air taxi network in the coming years,”

The model and concept is called the S-A1, and is designed to cruise at 290km an hour at around 1,000-2,000 feet in the air, doing trips of around 100km.

It will be 100% electric, featuring Vertical take-off and horizontal flight. Piloted initially, over time it will also become Autonomous.

Welcome to the future folks. Don’t expect to see the Hyundai in the early Melbourne Trials, this new aircraft is more likely to be seen in the latter part of the decade.