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GM Hints at Flying Cars, Talks the Future of EVs

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【Summary】Although GM is currently unsure about its stance on flying cars, the company has already finalized its strategy for other forms of emerging technologies in the automotive industry.

Michael Cheng    Nov 16, 2018 6:00 AM PT
GM Hints at Flying Cars, Talks the Future of EVs
author: Michael Cheng   

Leading car manufacturers have differing views about the future of transportation. Most agree that EVs and autonomous vehicles will underpin ride-sharing, private transportation, last-mile delivery services and daily commutes in cities.

However, when it comes to flying cars, not all businesses are ready to jump into developing aerial solutions for urban transportation. Some companies, such as General Motors (GM), are patiently observing the robust technology and have not made any major moves to support or shun the idea of flying cars.

Discussing Aerial Transportation

GM's views about flying cars are currently neutral. The business confirmed it previously held discussions about potential collaborations with companies in the nascent space. The projects would involve leveraging the automaker's electric and autonomous technologies to enhance aerial transportation units.

Based on these views, it seems that GM is not interested in producing its own flying cars at this time. Companies, like Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce, as well as a handful of startups, are already testing prototypes and engaging in trials.

"There will be some sort of air transport that will get integrated with this AV/EV technology," cited Mike Abelson, GM's vice president of global strategy, during the FT Future of the Car Summit USA in Detroit.

Integration with autonomous and electric vehicles could include a wide range of ground-based services. GM could shuttle passengers between stations or even complete ‘last-mile' routes between the station and homes or offices of daily commuters. These assumptions are not far-fetched, as the automaker is in the process of deploying driverless cars to support ride-sharing platforms by 2019.

With this in mind, GM does not necessarily have to launch its own flying cars to profit from the emerging sector. All it has to do is offer related services that make the flying-car experience more seamless.

Electric Cars and Trucks

Although GM is currently unsure about its stance on flying cars, the company has already finalized its strategy for other forms of emerging technologies in the automotive industry. Specifically, the car manufacturer is pressing for an electrified future. However, it is not open to offering electric trucks at this time (might change in the future).

"The rest of the world is moving aggressively toward EVs," said Abelson.

"We do believe we'll lead the industry in EVs sometime in the next decade or so. The core business is going to be the core business for a couple of decades to come. There will not be any AV/EV pickups."

It is important to highlight that GM is heavily invested in autonomous cars. Most of the brand's efforts have been developing and preparing its self-driving fleet for public roads. Moreover, it has committed to rolling out 20 new GM vehicles by 2023.

GM is also pursuing hydrogen-fuel cell technology, to cater to demanding commercial operations. The business recently unveiled the SURUS (Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure) concept. The hydrogen-powered unit is equipped with two electrified motors and four-wheel steering. According to the automaker, the vehicle could be utilized as a delivery truck or modified for ambulance services.

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