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(LEAD) Hyundai partners with Uber over urban air mobility business

All News 09:16 January 08, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 4-6, 9-11)

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. said Wednesday it has partnered with Uber Technologies Inc. to foster an urban air mobility service in its latest move to take a lead in the fledgling business.

Hyundai Motor and Uber signed a strategic deal, the first of its kind for the U.S. ride-hailing company, in Las Vegas on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which kicked off its four-day run on Jan. 7 (local time), the company said in a statement.

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun and Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the two companies will develop the world's most advanced personal air vehicle (PAV) and integrate PAVs with the urban air mobility (UAM) service.

In this photo taken Jan. 7, 2020 (local time), and provided by Hyundai Motor, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun (3rd from left) and Eric Allison, head of Uber's air taxi service Uber Elevate (L), pose with other officials behind the 'S-A1' PAV concept jointly developed by Hyundai and Uber at a CES media day held at Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

"Through the partnership with Uber, we will accelerate efforts to harness Hyundai's businesses and technologies to deliver true freedom of mobility. We will innovate tirelessly to redefine the boundaries of mobility and provide quality time to customers," Chung said.

Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said combining Hyundai's larger scale manufacturing capabilities with Uber's technology platform will facilitate a major step forward for Uber's air taxi service, Uber Elevate.

"As Hyundai taps its automotive industry experience to mass produce air taxis, we will be able to more quickly take Uber's platform into the skies, expanding affordable and seamless transportation in cities around the world," Khosrowshahi said.

Uber has also partnered with leading aircraft makers, such as Boeing, U.S.-based Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. and Brazilian aerospace company Embraer S.A., with an aim to commercialize Uber Air taxi in 2023.

At CES, the South Korean carmaker unveiled the 'S-A1' PAV concept jointly developed with Uber, and the PAV is a core part of the UAM service, a key future innovation business that can help overcome urban challenges like traffic congestion, connecting the sky and the ground.

Hyundai's first concept PAV S-A1 is equipped with electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) and is designed to seat five people, including a pilot. It will be operated initially by a pilot during the early stage of commercialization and driven autonomously once the relevant technologies are developed.

"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," said Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate.

Uber aims to launch a "vibrant air taxi network in the coming years," he said.

Hyundai expects UAM will be commercialized in 2028, and the UAM services will be offered first in overseas markets. For the launch of domestic services, the carmaker will continue to consult with authorities to revise or ease relevant rules and regulations, Chung said.

UAM is one of three innovative mobility solutions sought by Hyundai Motor Group, along with purpose built vehicle (PBV) and Hub, a place for mobility transfer and community activities.

PBVs allow passengers to enjoy tailored services while traveling to their destinations. Upon personalization, PBVs can function as a restaurant, coffee shop, and hotel, or even a clinic and pharmacy, in addition to an urban shuttle.

PBVs and UAM connect at the Hub, which will be installed across future cities to form a mobility ecosystem. The Hub has a skyport for the PAV on the top and docking stations on the ground for PBV to approach and depart from multiple directions.

Some 200 companies have jumped into the PAV and UAM business to seek new growth drivers in the rapidly changing automotive industry, Hyundai said.

U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley forecast the global UAM market to reach US$1.5 trillion by 2040.

This image provided by Hyundai Motor shows how the carmaker's smart mobility solutions will work once fully developed. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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