Toyota, Uber’s Flying Cars May Save Saigon From A Looming Traffic Problem [Opinion]

Futuristic automobile

A law passed in Vietnam has begun to make the country’s traffic problem even worse than it used to be, and pretty soon the traffic in Saigon, Vietnam’s most crowded city, is going to grind to a halt. Luckily, this problem will probably be fixed at least partially in the next few years by the flying cars in which both Toyota and Uber recently invested.

Why The Increased Car Ownership In Saigon?

VN Express reports that, in January of this year, the Vietnamese government sharply lowered taxes on the import of foreign-made cars (which means all cars are cheaper, since there are no Vietnamese car manufacturers). Obviously, the massive cut, which came out to more than 7 percent, persuaded a lot more people to buy cars.

Before the tax cut was passed, buying cars for personal use was generally reserved for only the city’s ultra-rich; the taxes caused cars to cost two or three times what they would in most Western countries. Purchasing an automobile is still not cheap for most Vietnamese, who on average make a lower salary than, say, Americans, but a cut that comes to more than 5,000 USD (113 million VND) in many cases obviously makes owning one of the vehicles much more attractive than it was before. Hence, increased car ownership.

Skydrive Cartavator Resources

Saigon Traffic Is About To Get Even Worse

Anyone who has lived in or visited Saigon (now officially called Ho Chi Minh City) knows that traffic is a real pain. When you cram almost 10 million people into a city just barely more spacious than Jacksonville, Florida, you’re bound to have some pretty crowded streets. This is only made worse by the fact that many less developed parts of the city are laced with heavily used roads that are not wide enough to support more than one lane going each way.

Luckily, the vast majority of the people living in the city drive small and agile motorbikes instead of cars, which are much larger and have a much more difficult time getting through traffic.

As stated above, though, more and more Vietnamese are buying cars. The country’s government plans to cut import taxes even further in the near future, too, which will undoubtedly thrill many residents… until they realize that more cars means even more congestion in traffic.

Toyota And Uber’s Flying Cars and How They Will Help

There have been a lot of new ideas flying around the automobile business in the past few years, what with electric cars and even self-driving cars fast becoming realities. Cars that actually drive 10 or 20 meters above the ground have been talked about a lot less, but, according to BBC, Toyota has recently sunk a large sum of money (363,000 USD, 8.23 billion VND) into a Japanese flying car company called Cartavator Resources. The flying car project is called Skydrive. Its cars will be basically like large drones, only, of course, with much stronger fans. They will be capable of flying 10 meters (33 feet) above the ground or anywhere in between, and their top speed will be 100 kmh (62 mph). With such a huge company expressing serious interest in this small flying car startup, you’ve got to look at the idea seriously.

Uber is also investing in its own flying car concept, “Uber Elevate.” It says on the project’s site that the flying taxis will take off and land vertically, like a helicopter, and they will be able to fly around eight times faster than a car can get through traffic. All this is done while creating no pollution and making very little noise. Best of all, it will supposedly be about the same price as a normal Uber taxi.

Flying above traffic

How Far Away Is This?

This all might seem like science fiction that won’t be available until way down the road, but that’s not true. Toyota and Skydrive say it is their goal to unveil their first flying car prototype by lighting the Olympic torch with the car at the 2020 games and having the flying cars available for the public to buy a few years later. Uber has a similar schedule, saying they hope to demonstrate their flying taxis at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai and have them out on the road for people to use by 2023.

Whether either Toyota or Uber’s flying cars will be coming to Saigon as soon as they are released is unknown. When they do, though, they will basically eliminate the city’s traffic problems. Who cares about traffic on the ground when you can fly above it? And if there’s too much traffic at 10 meters, just sink down to 5 meters and you’re good to go!

[Featured Image by Antstorm/iStock]