Audi puts flying taxi development on hold with Airbus

The decision comes after Porsche announced a partnership with Boeing for a premium flying taxi vehicle.

Audi Pop.Up

Maybe this was a little too complicated for the world.

Audi

Audi may not take to the skies nearly as quickly as was once thought. Although the German luxury marque appeared to be headed at full speed toward a making a flying taxi with Italdesign and partner Airbus, those plans are now in limbo.

The company told Roadshow that Audi is "currently working on a realignment of our urban air mobility activities and [has] not yet made a decision on possible future products." In this process, it may instead look to "make the best possible use" of its ability to work with other companies that are part of Volkswagen Group.

The automaker also reiterated that the PopUp Next concept was never intended for production, but merely served as its first foray into the world of autonomous air taxis. It's a complex machine and became a valuable research tool, according to Audi. 

Audi said the company believes it will take "a very long time" before this kind of transportation is ready for mass production. Thus, it was time to take a step back.

The decision comes after Porsche, also under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, revealed a Boeing partnership to develop premium air taxi travel. Audi said the Porsche and Boeing partnership will provide mutual benefits and the company is convinced air taxis have a place in future transportation.

The PopUp Next flying taxi, combining an autonomous city car and drone, debuted at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. Developed with France's Airbus, it was presented as a seamless way to go from quick air travel to last-mile movement on the ground with the city car. Audi went as far as signing a letter of intent with city of Ingolstadt to begin tests of the PopUp. Last November, a scale model of the concept made its first successful test flight.

Porsche said in its Boeing partnership announcement last week that an internal study indicated this kind of air travel would pick up in popularity after 2025. Audi, meanwhile, says it will remain in close contact to share information and other project results.

Originally published Oct. 14, 7:34 a.m. PT.

Update, 11:13 a.m.: Adds statement from Audi on reevaluation of air mobility goals.

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