From Wheels to Wings: Our Flying Car Future

Can we beat the traffic by taking to the skies? For more than a century, the automobile has ruled our city streets, chaining us to grid-shaped streets choked with lines of traffic. And for many of us, seemingly endless hours of daily commuting. “But what if we can remove those chains?” asks JoeBen Bevirt of Joby Aviation. “What do our lives, what do our cities, how does the world look 20 years from now or 50 years from now? That's what gets me up everyday. “So my mission is to save a billion people an hour a day in their daily commutes.” The ability to sail above the freeways in a flying car, getting to work in minutes instead of hours, has long been the stuff of science fiction. But JoeBen Bevirt is already on his way towards making it a reality. He’s raised more than $100 million to develop a five-seater that he claims will be faster, cheaper and quieter than helicopters. And not just as a plaything for the rich, Bevirt promises. “We really want to be able to launch this at an affordable price point that’s accessible to everyone,” he says. “That is similar cost to taking a taxi on a cost per passenger mile. And then our ambition is to get it to the cost of personal car.” Other startups around the world are also developing drones or flying cars. Urban air mobility – or UAM -- is coming. For now, there are still many challenges to getting those flying cars off the ground, from infrastructure to regulatory issues, from air traffic to zoning. Not to mention mechanics and design – what will the flying car of the future look like? Auto industry consultant Charlie Vogelheim says what comes to mind for most consumers is a cross between the Jetson’s family-sized space capsule and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. “The thing that people keep thinking about when they think about flying cars is, ‘where is that car that I can drive and then the wings come out?’” Guests: JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO, Joby Aviation Uma Subramanian, CEO, Aero Technologies Jennifer Richter, Partner, Akin Gump CharlieVogelheim, Principal, Vogelheim Ventures Related Links: Air-Taxi Startup has a Working Prototype (Bloomberg) How Airbus is working to take urban mobility airborne (Pitchbook) Bringing Urban Mobility into the Third Dimension (Urban Future) This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on August 20th, 2019, and was made possible by the ClimateWorks Foundation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

by Climate One