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The Fifth Element, brought to you by Toyota

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I’m going to go a little bit off-topic today, dear readers, because I have been inspired by something really exciting. However, to keep us tethered to the Earth and well-grounded in our car-blog roots, I’ll start the story with a Land Cruiser.

I’ve always been a sucker for a Toyota Land Cruiser. Their big, boxy, four-wheel-drive capability married to Toyota’s world-class reliability really speak to me as the Japanese anti-Land Rover. I saw a big, crusty, late ‘90s model the other day that I was ruminating on, and while I pictured myself on safari, I sat down to do some more research. I came across a really fascinating article about the 2021 model that I’ll share next week, but this week, something caught my eye that I really was not expecting. So let’s cut to the chase - Toyota has invested in a flying taxi that was just tested and approved for production this past week.

You read that correctly. Flying cars.

The SkyDrive eVTOL prototype was funded after the auto giant gobbled up the SkyDrive start-up and made them Toyota’s in-house flying car producer. The term eVTOL stands for “electric vertical takeoff and landing” and describes passenger vehicles that appear much like human-sized versions of those toy drones everyone went crazy about four or five years ago. And the concept is entirely the same. The SD-03 is built to takeoff and land vertically much like a helicopter, thereby removing the need for an air strip, and it can fit into the space of about two parked cars. Additionally, it has four motors, each one coupled to two rotors, though it only requires two of those motor/rotor pairs to actually fly. The main idea is redundancy so that we don’t have legit Blade Runner cars crashing down on our heads.

Toyota is looking to have the first flying taxis making runs by 2023, and Toyota is not known for falling through on promises. Between electric cars and eVTOLs, it really does seem like science fiction is becoming reality. It will be interesting to see if we ever have consumer versions or if licensed pilots will still have to operate them, and if so, can Bruce Willis fly me around so we can pretend to be in The Fifth Element? If we ultimately get pilot’s licenses in addition to driver’s licenses, the only real important choice left is what color of CocoMats to match with our new, sleek, flying rides!

-Trey Fennell



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