TURIN -- Airbus believes its CityAirbus flying taxi could be adopted in pilot projects in large cities as soon as 2025.
“I expect to see them in large cites before 2025, in the most forward-looking and open cities, maybe even 2022 or 2023,” Mark Cousin, Airbus’s head of flight demonstrators said at the Automotive News Europe Congress here on Wednesday.
“I think once we start seeing this becoming real, in some of the cities which are really planning for the smart city of the future, we’ll see a very fast adoption,” Cousin said during a panel discussion on Future of Mobility in Megacities.
Along with the City Airbus, the aerospace company is working on several mobility solutions. One is the Pop.Up, a concept vehicle that consists of a passenger capsule that can be coupled with electric power modules for air and ground transport. It is being developed by Airbus in conjunction with Audi and Italdesign, the Turin-based design firm owned by the Volkswagen Group.
Cousin said the aerospace company has no intention of getting into the auto industry or making ground transport vehicles but would be interested in partnering on a system “whereby ground vehicles are compatible with Airbus design.”
Cousin said a City Airbus demonstrator is being built in Germany that will be completed by the end of this year for display.
Automakers see providing the mobility services of the future as a key part of their future business.
The mobility and connectivity market in Europe will grow to 223 billion euros in 2030, from 32 billion euros in 2017, said Andrea Carlucci, marketing director of Toyota Europe, rising from just 6 percent of total automotive revenues of 502 billion euros last year to 42 percent of a potential 531 billion-euro overall market in 2030.
“We are very serious about moving the company to being a mobility provider,” said Carlucci, pointing out that Toyota’s mobility strategy will be linked to its goal to achieve zero emissions.
The company created a new division in Europe called Toyota Connected Europe based in London to develop its strategy, he said.
Volkswagen Group’s Seat brand has also created a new unit called XMOBA to focus on mobility services, said Arantxa Alonso.
“We have Justmoove mobility platform that is starting operation in Spain,” said Alonso. “For car sharing, we bought Respiro. We will start ride sharing by end of the year for commuters.”
Panelists disagreed on whether it was better for large companies to create separate mobility brands or to leverage their existing brand name. Seat decided to go with a separate name because it wanted to attract new customers, said Alonso.
Toyota’s Carlucci noted that the value of the brand is key for the company in this new marketplace.
Mobility will be driven more and more by cities, and not only customers or technology, said panelists.
“The number of cities saying, ‘I am not going to be Uber-ed again is really incredible,” said EY associate partner John Simlett, who urged OEMs to “get out and talk to city administrations.”
For example, he pointed to seven cities in the Netherlands that are conducting mobility experiments to test solutions that could be rolled out at a national level.
“We are getting requests every couple of days we get requests for city mobility services,” he said.