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Toyota Has Already Explored Flying Cars

The car manufacturer has taken an early look at vehicles where the rubber doesn't meet the road.

Shutterstock / Ladislav Krajca

Bloomberg senior writer Brad Stone threw out what he called a “wackadoodle” final question during a session on the future of cars at the publication’s Next Big Thing Summit on Monday: Will we see flying cars in our lifetime?

Hiroyoshi Yoshiki, a managing officer at the Toyota Motor Corp., didn’t exactly answer the question. But he did say the company’s research and development lab has looked at the possibility.

Asked after the session if they’re developing a flying car, Yoshiki laughed and stressed that the work is very preliminary.

He said the research may never result in a prototype much less an actual consumer product: “I’m very skeptical.”

Toyota spokesman Katsuhiko Koganei added that what the company has explored is a way of eliminating the friction of actual physical contact with the road.

I asked if that meant it would be more analogous to a hovercraft?

“It might be similar,” he said.

In the immediate future, Toyota is focused on turning out automobiles powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Onstage, Yoshiki said the company is “now very serious” about the technology, which only emits water vapor. Toyota showed off a prototype with a range of 310 miles at CES in January.

“We believe not only for gas mileage, but for emissions and global warming, that technology is essential to meeting the big challenge,” he said.

Of course, don’t even get Tesla’s Elon Musk started on fuel cells.

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