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Alex Kimani

Alex Kimani

Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for Safehaven.com. 

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Flying Car Stocks Are Going Viral In 2021

Flying cars, also known as electric air taxis, have been around us for a long time thanks to sci-fi staples such as "Back to the Future" and "The Jetsons." But with major brands like Boeing (NYSE:BA), Airbus (OTCPK:EADSF), Hyundai and Toyota (NYSE:TM) now promising to whisk riders through the skies in flying taxis and receiving a heady dose of Wall Street endorsement, the dream is increasingly getting closer to reality.

Indeed, many experts are now upbeat that air mobility over short distances is closer to becoming reality than ever before in history, thanks mainly to massive advancements in battery technologies and autonomous flight. And make no mistake about it: Flying taxis have real potential to completely restructure public and private transportation, decongest our roads and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, a Morgan Stanley Research study says the autonomous urban aircraft market will continue to mature during the current decade and then boom globally to reach $1.5 trillion by 2040.

Sure, flying taxis have no shortage of critics and detractors, including Elon Musk who has dismissed these futuristic flying devices as being little more than giant drones that are 1,000 times bigger and noisier and will "blow away anything that isn't nailed down when they land."

But even Musk himself has admitted to giving serious thought to flying cars after being sold on a futuristic, all-electric, 5-seater jet made by German company Lilium.

Here are some of the notable flying taxi early risers that could soon enter the investment mainstream.

Joby Aviation: Waiting for clearance

Joby Aviation, a California-based startup founded in 2009 and backed by major investors, including Toyota and Intel (NASDAQ:INTL), is regarded as one of the leading companies in the flying taxi space.

Joby caught the attention of many investors after it bought Uber Technologies' (NYSE:UBER) flying taxi division Elevate in December. The company's flying taxi, the Joby S4, has the following specs:

  • Vehicle type: Vectored thrust with six tilting propellers
  • Capacity: Pilot + four passengers
  • Range: 150 miles (240km)
  • Speed: 200mph (322km/h)
  • Projected Launch Date: 2023

And now Joby has just taken one step closer to becoming a mainstream company.

According to a recent report by the Financial Times, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) co-founder Mark Pincus's SPAC Reinvent Technology Partners (NYSE:RTP) is close to inking a deal to merge with Joby in a deal that will value the flying taxi developer at $5.7 billion. Related: Oil Prices Soar As U.S. Oil Production Plunges 30%

Reinvent Technology is reportedly finalizing financing for the transaction with an agreement expected to be announced this month. A final deal could still fall apart, though, if additional financing isn't secured.

Archer Aviation: Cleared for takeoff

A week ago, urban air mobility startup Archer Aviation agreed Wednesday to go public via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) deal with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. (NYSE:ACIC) in a deal that will value the Archer at $3.8B. 

The transaction includes United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL), Chrysler/Peugeot parent Stellantis (NYSE:STLA) as well as mega-investors Ken Moelis and Marc Lore.

Archer is developing electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or "eVTOL," helicopter-like aircraft that can take off and land without runways. United Airlines has announced plans to buy $1B of Archer's eVTOLs, with an option to purchase another $500M later on in a bid to promote "decarbonization" in its operations. 

Related: Biden’s Energy Plans Threaten Alaska’s Oil Ambitions

ACIC shares have more than doubled since the deal was announced.

Other promising flying taxi companies include:

Volocopter

Based in Bruchsal, Germany, co-founded by the former skateboarding star Alex Zosel and backed by the Chinese car company Geely.

Vehicle type: Volocopter Volocity, an 18-rotor multicopter

Capacity: Pilot + one passenger + hand luggage

Range: 22 miles (35km)

Speed: 68mph (110km/h)

Projected Launch Date: 2022-2023

EHang 

Startup based in Guangzhou, China.

Vehicle type: EHang 216, multicopter with 16 propellers

Capacity: Two passengers, no pilot

Range: 22 miles (35km)

Speed: 81mph (130km/h)

Projected Launch Date: Unknown

Lilium

Munich-based startup with investors, including Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Vehicle type: Lilium Jet, a vectored thrust, with 36 jet engines

Capacity: Pilot + four passengers

Range: 186 miles (300km)

Speed: 186mph (300km/h)

Projected Launch Date: 2025

Wisk

Wisk is a joint venture between Silicon Valley startup Kitty Hawk and Boeing, backed by Google's Larry Page.

Vehicle type: Wisk Cora, a hybrid with fixed wings and 12 rotors

Capacity: Two passengers, no pilot

Range: 25 miles (40km)

Speed: 100mph (160km/h)

Launch: Unknown

Vertical Aerospace

A Bristol-based startup that acquired MGI, the Formula One consultancy led by motorsports veteran Mike Gascoyne, in 2019. 

Vehicle type: Multicopter with 12 propellers

Capacity: Pilot + two passengers

Range: Unknown

Speed: 50mph (80km/h)

Launch: Aiming for a commercial launch in 2023-24.

By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com

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