Months after hype, Mahathir says Malaysia shouldn’t have called its big drone a ‘flying car’

“The mistake was in calling it a flying car. It is actually a big drone,” Bernama quoted the premier as saying.

Malaysia should not have called its latest drone project a flying car, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad admitted on Sunday (Dec 8).

The premier was addressing a recent comment made by Pakatan Harapan lawmaker Fadzli Ramly, who called the much-hyped project “useless” during Parti Amanah Negara’s annual convention the day before.

The Star quoted the Rompin division chief who said: “We at the grassroots level are ashamed of defending the flying car project issue… this is one of the useless programmes carried out by the government. Are we not ashamed to defend such an issue to the rakyat (public)?”

Read also: Malaysia’s first-ever flying car will take off this year at ‘low altitude’ – but some Malaysians are already calling it a ‘joke’

According to Bernama, Mahathir responded that the name “flying car” had resulted in misunderstandings about the invention’s function.

“The mistake was in calling it a flying car,” the state outlet quoted the premier as saying. “It is actually a big drone, which is capable of carrying people around without having to use the roads, as it can fly.”

The PM said that it was also “okay” if Malaysians rejected the super-drone.

He added: “This is just an idea. If they like it, they can accept it, but if they don’t, nobody will force them to.”

Read also: ‘Get ready for flying cars,’ says Morgan Stanley’s widely followed auto analyst

The PM’s comments come days after Malaysia’s Public Accounts Committee found that a Government agency had allegedly invested RM20 million in Aerodyne, the firm developing the super-drone. It called for an audit on Nov 29, Bernama said in a separate report.

The report added that the Entrepreneur Development Ministry subsequently clarified the funding was for a new national car, not the super-drone.

Bernama quoted the ministry as saying that the project did not involve Government funds.

It added: “This (super-drone) project is a private initiative and fully funded by local companies… the ministry will not suffer any losses if the project fails to take off.”

News of a Malaysian-made flying car first broke in February this year after Minister of Entrepreneur Development Redzuan Yusof announced that the car would be ready by the year’s end.

He reportedly added that a prototype was already available and had cost RM1million (US$245,884) to build.

Earlier in October, the New Straits Times reported PM Mahathir as saying that Malaysia was not ready for the air taxi industry just yet, due to a lack of safety regulations.

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