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Malaysia's flying car plan jets into controversy

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    Agence France-Presse

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   /   Wed, February 27, 2019   /   03:24 pm
 Malaysia's flying car plan jets into controversy People look at the 2019 Proton X70 SUV during its official launch ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. Chinese automaker Geely has agreed to extend its existing partnership with Proton Holdings Berhad to upgrade the Malaysian carmaker’s lineup of cars and power Proton go beyond Malaysia, part of an ongoing effort to help Proton establish a presence in China and other international markets. (AFP/Mohd. Rasfan)

Malaysia plans to launch a flying car, a minister has said, sparking a flood of mockery in a country with a chequered history when it comes to automotive projects. 

The prototype of the vehicle, which uses local technology, will be unveiled later this year, said Entrepreneur Development Minister Redzuan Mohamad Yusof, according to state news agency Bernama.

The vehicle cost about one million ringgit ($245,000) to develop and will fly at low altitudes, he said Tuesday, without revealing any more details. 

Previous car projects in Malaysia have not always met with great success -- the country started producing Protons in the 1980s but they are routinely criticized for unimaginative models and shoddy workmanship, and their popularity has steadily fallen.

For many people, the flying car project was just another harebrained scheme cooked up by foolish politicians.

"Words fail me. I have never read so much stupidity in my life," one commentator wrote online.

Aman Shah posted on Facebook: "How come this idiot is selected as a minister? Solve the public transport problem first, instead of inventing flying car."

There have been several attempts around the world to develop flying cars, such as the Transition made by US firm Terrafugia and the AeroMobil, produced in Slovakia. 

Both have taken years and a lot of money to develop, and are yet to go on sale. 

Some questioned the wisdom of trying to develop a flying vehicle in Malaysia with the national car industry already facing problems. 

"We cannot even promote hybrid and electric car properly and sell them at affordable price, now talking about flying cars. What a joke," said one comment.

Since returning for a second stint as prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad -- who previously championed Proton -- has announced plans for a new national car project, triggering widespread criticism.

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