4 initiatives to bring flying cars into Malaysia

Initiatives include partnerships between local firms and companies in China and the UK

pic by AFP

FOUR private initiatives to develop air mobility vehicles in Malaysia are on the government’s radar, said Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof ahead of Malaysia’s first flying vehicle take-off scheduled for today.

Aerodyne Geospatial Sdn Bhd — the maker of the flying vehicle Vector — has not been the only party that has sought the government’s support, the minister said.

Other initiatives to bring flying vehicles into the country include partnerships between local firms and companies in China and the UK.

“On our record? There are four — one from the UK, one Malaysian but they manufacture in Japan, one between a Malaysian company and China, and another initiated by an association of the drone industry in Malaysia,” Mohd Redzuan told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

His comment came after a local daily reported on Tuesday that the maiden flying vehicle take-off will involve a foreign-made prototype called “Super Dron” from a joint venture between EastCap Bhd and Chinese firms, EHang Intelligent Equipment (Guangzhou) Co Ltd and Strong Rich Holdings Ltd.

The “flying car” take-off — a closed-door event — will involve companies from China, Mohd Redzuan admitted.

Without naming the parties involved, he said the collaboration between the local company and China promises export opportunities for inter-island hopping and to service the medical industry.

The passenger drone for the flight test was earlier identified by automotive blog PaulTan.org as the EHang 216, made by Chinese firm Beijing Yi-Hang Creation Science & Technology Co Ltd.

The prototype drone was described as a 360kg unit featuring an aero-cab structure capable of accommodating two passengers, with payload rated at 260kg. It also has a cruising speed of 130kph and a flight range of about 35km.

EastCap MD and CEO Datuk Seri Zakwanhafiz Ahmad Ansari is reported to have links to the plantation industry, particularly in the cultivation of guarana — a crop which has the potential to be an alternative crop to rubber and oil palm, the businessman said.

The company had said the introduction of “Super Dron” was not meant for transport use, but for applications such as border patrol and as an emergency aid vehicle.

Its plan includes the construction of an assembly facility in Malaysia with a production capacity of 10,000 units a year.

Earlier in the Dewan Rakyat, Mohd Redzuan was beleaguered by the “flying car” issue when Opposition MPs questioned him over Transport Minister Anthony Loke’s usage of the term “drone” in reference to the aerial vehicle.

Loke said the take-off of the vehicle will need approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) as it is a drone.

Mohd Redzuan brushed off the argument on the term used and said it was merely semantics. On the approval from CAAM, he hopes the go-ahead will be given in time.