HAMBURG -- Volkswagen Group is conducting a feasibility study in China about flying cars, the automaker said on Tuesday, joining a growing number of companies looking into the potential technology.
"Beyond autonomous driving the concept of vertical mobility could be a next step to take our mobility approach into the future, especially in the technically affine Chinese market," the automaker said.
"Therefore, we are investigating potential concepts and partners in a feasibility study to identify the possibility to industrialize this approach."
In an interview with Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess on Linkedin, the automaker's China head Stephan Woellenstein said the company wanted to develop a drone that could be licensed, giving it a way to participate in this future market.
China is the world's biggest light vehicle market, and also accounts for the largest part of VW's sales.
The news comes as companies from startups to other global automakers are racing to develop commercial "robotaxis," hoping to cash in on a market Morgan Stanley says could be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040.
In addition to big players such as VW and Airbus, groups including U.S.-based Joby, Germany's Lilium, and Volocopter, whose financial backers include Daimler and Intel, are pursuing such plans.
Lilium said in November it would set up its first U.S. hub near Orlando, putting more than 20 million Floridians within range of its winged electric aircraft that can take off vertically and cover 185 miles.