Unlikely players team up to lead South Korea’s air taxi industry

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United States perhaps one of the best countries to start an urban air vehicle company. You only have to look at how quickly well-funded startups like Joby Aviation, Wisk Aero and Lillium are building and testing electric VTOL aircraft, or eVTOLs.

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However, South Korea, which lacks venture capital, an entrepreneurial ecosystem and US aerospace heritage, may be the first to lay the groundwork for transforming urban air mobility (UAM) from a costly science project into a viable service.

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In 2020, the South Korean government laid out its Roadmap for the commercialization of air taxis by 2025, a goal that has since allowed mobility-focused private companies to form consortiums dedicated to the goal. Now, aside from automakers, seemingly unlikely players such as telcos and sharing platforms are driving the UAM industry forward.

Unusual Suspects

It is not difficult to imagine that automakers will be involved in this area. Indeed, some US companies such as General Motors have air mobility in sight. After all, they have a recognizable brand, and production can at least take the car off the assembly line.

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In South Korea, Hyundai, the country’s largest automaker, allocated 1.8 trillion South Korean won (US$1.4 billion) for flying taxis in South Korea by 2025. In 2020, the company also formed a consortium with South Korean telecommunications giant KT and a couple of other companies to commercialize UAM by 2028 and build the country’s first helicopter at the Millennium Hilton Seoul hotel.

Now you’re probably wondering how telcos fit into this equation. As expected, they seem to complete the communication piece of the puzzle.


Credit: techcrunch.com /

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