What’s your idea of travel in the future?

What’s your idea of travel in the future?

Posted by

Andy Bruce

April 2022

In Coventry, the future has landed. Or, perhaps more accurately, is about to take off.

The world’s first electric airport is opening where eVTOL craft – that’s electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles – will be taking off and landing.

If you have no idea what an eVTOL might be, imagine air taxis and autonomous delivery drones populating the sky; Coventry’s Air-One is a world-first demonstration of a fully-operational hub for future zero-emission transport. If you live in or around Coventry, go and visit the site and have a look at the future.

If the idea of urban air taxis sounds far-fetched, it’s been in the sights of transport thinkers for some time. In fact, the PAL-V flying car is in production now – see our blog from 2017 Is there room for a flying car on your fleet?

But drone technology looks to be where the future of short flight air travel belongs. And car manufacturers are in on the tech, particularly Hyundai which is part of the Air One project through its Urban Air Mobility Division. It sees the Urban-Air Port as a priority infrastructure partner to support the global growth of this new sector.

Hyundai Urban Air Port

NASA predicts that urban-air mobility in the US alone could be worth up to $500 billion USD (£375 billion) in the near term. So early investment is crucial to take advantage of what looks certain to be a booming sector. Hyundai plans to create its own eVTOL aircraft and support the broader urban air mobility ecosystem and says its aircraft will be in commercial operation by 2028.

If you prefer your transport of the future to have four wheels rather than four propellers, then how about Audi’s simply enormous MPV Urbansphere creation? Sitting an imposing 5.5m long, slightly over 2m wide and nearly 1.8m tall, there will be no missing this concept envisioning the future of transport in Chinese megacities.

And rather than cram in plenty of seats into the car’s cavernous interior, the Urbansphere focuses on interior spaciousness for its passengers. With level 4 autonomy, most of the driving is taken care of, so the car’s occupants can use the Urbansphere as a comfortable lounge or workspace on the move. As you might expect, the car is highly digitised and connected, able to book reservations for you, and drop you off at your desired restaurant before scuttling off to park itself. Then returning when required.

While the Urbansphere is for the future, the brand new BMW 7 Series – and especially the electric i7 – is very much about today. The 7 Series has always been as much about carrying captains of industry in the rear as said captains taking the wheel and enjoying the drive. However, the latest i7 takes a more relaxed view.

The car features reclining rear seats for some well-earned R&R on the move but also has a fold-down cinema screen to watch in-car movies with built-in touch screen remotes in the door panels. Featuring built-in Amazon Fire TV, the touchscreen ‘theatre screen’ measures over 31 inches with a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system.  (The screen has been fully crash-tested by the way.) A built-in camera means you can also take part in videoconferencing on your travels. (No escaping the office, then…)

Range on a charge is said to be over 367 miles. In typical BMW fashion, while being luxury-led the car is spritely, sprinting to 62mph in under 5 seconds. Arriving late 2022, the electric 7 will be joined by two plug-in hybrid models in 2023.

Which sort of brings us back full circle and down to earth. While looking at the future of transport is always fascinating, the here and now is more to do with keeping fleets mobile.

Our order banks are at record levels, with many of our fleet customers making the electrification transition. But unfortunately vehicle delivery remains an issue, with delays continuing to hamper new car delivery. There’s no question that electrification is the future and we are fully committed to it. But for the moment, reality is making the future take a back seat. In the meantime, we’ll do everything possible to ensure your fleets stay mobile while the vehicle wait continues.

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