Ride-hailing firm Uber and Hyundai Motor Company have teamed up to build and develop air taxis for use in cities around the world, with the aim of being commercially operational by 2023.

The announcement was made at the 2020 CES technology conference in Las Vegas, where Hyundai unveiled its all-electric self-flying concept, the SA-1. The air taxi can carry up to four passengers and fly on trips up to 60 miles (100km), at an altitude of between 1,000-2,000ft.

It will be piloted initially, before eventually becoming autonomous, and will only need between five and seven minutes to recharge – according to the automotive giant.

Eric Allison, Head of Uber Elevate, said: “Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale. We believe Hyundai has the potential to build Uber Air vehicles at rates unseen in the current aerospace industry, producing high quality, reliable aircraft at high volumes to drive down passenger costs per trip. 

“Combining Hyundai’s manufacturing muscle with Uber’s technology platform represents a giant leap forward for launching a vibrant air taxi network in the coming years.”

As part of the partnership, Hyundai will produce and deploy the air vehicles, with Uber providing airspace support services, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces through an aerial ride share network. Both parties are collaborating on infrastructure concepts to support take-off and landing for this new class of vehicle.

Uber wants to conduct initial flight demonstrations of its Elevate service later this year, and plans to debut the new air taxi service in Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne.

Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division, said: “Our vision of Urban Air Mobility will transform the concept of urban transportation.

“We expect UAM to vitalise urban communities and provide more quality time to people. We are confident that Uber Elevate is the right partner to make this innovative product readily available to as many customers as possible.”