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Hyundai's flying taxi concept for a planned Uber aerial taxi service. Image: courtesy of Uber

Hyundai and Uber are partnering on a planned flying ride-share network, and the Korean carmaker unveiled a full-scale model of a potential air taxi Monday at CES, the big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.

Why it matters: Flying cars face multiple hurdles to becoming a reality, but Uber says Hyundai's large-scale manufacturing experience, including its track record producing electric vehicles, could help speed their deployment.

Background: Uber has partnered with several aerospace companies to develop flying taxi concepts, but Hyundai is the first automaker to join the initiative, which aims to launch commercial flights as early as 2023.

  • “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, the company's aviation division.
  • "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,” Allison added.

Details: Under their partnership, Hyundai will produce and deploy the aircraft and Uber will manage the aerial rideshare network, including connections to ground transportation.

  • Hyundai's aircraft would take off and land vertically and is designed to fly distances of up to 60 miles. The top speed would be 180 mph at altitudes between 1,000 and 2,000 feet.
  • Powered by electricity, the aircraft would take about five to seven minutes to recharge, the companies said.
  • While they would be piloted initially, the goal is to make them autonomous.

Yes, but: Flying cars face enormous regulatory and technical challenges, notes Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey.

  • "There's such a high bar for these things to pass, that no matter what their business model is, it's hard to imagine how they get there," he said.
  • Nor is it clear that air taxis, each carrying just a handful of people, can relieve congestion on the ground, he said.

Go deeper

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats' clean power outlook is very muddy

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Here are two big questions as a key Democratic proposal to slash emissions from power generation flounders: how much its demise would sap climate protections, and what might replace it.

Catch up fast: New financial carrots and sticks for utilities to deploy zero-carbon power — the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) — look unlikely to stay in Democrats' big social spending and climate bill.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC: Unvaccinated are over 11 times more likely to die from COVID

Expand chart
Reproduced from CDC; Note: Data represents 30% of Americans across 16 jurisdictions: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York City, Seattle/King County, Wash., Utah and Wisconsin; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The CDC recently published data evaluating Americans' rate of coronavirus cases and deaths by vaccine status, providing more data on which vaccines are working best and how much protection they offer relative to being unvaccinated.

What they found: As of August, unvaccinated people had a more than six times higher risk of testing positive for the coronavirus, and were more than 11 times more likely to die from the virus.