The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

NEC launched its flying car program in 2018 with most of the work being done at the company’s Abiko plant in Japan. Leveraging the company’s technology and expertise in aerospace and cybersecurity, the large, four-propeller autonomous aircraft is designed for unmanned flights and is intended primarily for cargo deliveries. 

In August 2019, a prototype of the car made an initial test flight. Reaching a height of 10 feet (3 meters), the flying car hovered for about one minute. As a safety precaution, the test was held in a giant cage located at an NEC facility outside of Tokyo. As of April 2020, the company was preparing to conduct further test flights at its Abiko facility.

As part of efforts to reduce weight, NEC's engineering team has developed an motor weighing just over 15 pounds (7 kg), which it says is significantly lighter than existing motors that are more than four times heavier. 



By the end of 2023, NEC intends to have its management system for "flying car" operations ready for use with logistics services (i.e. cargo deliveries). It sees passenger-carrying operations beginning in the 2030s. 

test flight

In August 2019, NEC conducting initial test flights of its flying car prototype.


Our objective assessment of this program’s probable success.

FutureFlight assesses the probability of success for a new aircraft program by considering the following criteria:

  • Total investment funds available in proportion to the anticipated cost of getting an aircraft certified and in service
  • A company’s in-house capability (in terms of numbers of engineers, technical staff, and customer support teams)
  • The past experience of the company and its senior leadership in developing aircraft
  • The caliber and past experience of key program partners
  • Whether key aircraft systems have been selected and are available for use
  • Whether the preliminary design review has been completed
  • Whether the design for the full-scale prototype has been completed
  • Whether the type certification process has been formally initiated with an appropriate regulator
  • Whether the company has achieved a first flight with a full-scale prototype
  • The number of hours logged in a flight test program
  • Whether type certification has been achieved
  • The number of orders and commitment received for the aircraft
  • Whether the company has adequate facilities to begin series production of the aircraft
Our Methodology

At face value, NEC has an abundance of technological expertise—albeit mainly outside of the aviation sector—and no shortage of financial muscle. Its ambitions in the urban air mobility sector should also benefit from the support the group enjoys from the Japanese government, which is committed to supporting a service entry roadmap for eVTOL aircraft to carry freight by 2023 and people by the 2030s. 

That being said, NEC is on the record as saying it has no intention of becoming a flying car manufacturer. Instead, its interest lies in developing the management systems needed to operate flying cars, including flight control systems, communication technology, and countermeasures against a range of elements that could limit safe operations. As such, their flying car prototype is simply a means of getting the necessary flight data to create such a system and develop software to support it. The Japanese company aims to produce a flying car management system for logistics use by 2023.

NEC Flying Car Models

NEC Flying Car Specifications

autonomous vtol Multicopter


  • Passenger Capacity
  • Range
  • Cruise Speed
  • Powerplant Type
    multi rotor
  • Power Source
  • Endurance
  • Max Altitude
  • Takeoff Distance
  • Landing Distance
  • Empty Weight
    326 lb
  • Payload Weight


  • Length
    13 ft
  • Width
    12 ft
  • Height
    4 ft
  • Wingspan

Japanese technology group NEC has been testing a flying car as part of a wider plan to develop an operations management system for eVTOL aircraft. Flight testing started on a limited basis in August 2019. The vehicle is an all-electric quadcopter design that can be operated autonomously. The fuselage is a carbon-fiber, monocoque frameless body design. Power comes from a 30 kW motor that weighs just over 15 pounds. 

Key Personnel

Kouji Okada

Program Director

Masashi Zaikokuji