Friday, February 23, 2024

Archer and Fiat Chrysler to start mass-producing electric air taxis from 2023

We will soon hear more and more often about eVTOL vehicles that are 100% electrically powered aircraft capable of taking off and landing vertically, renamed electric air taxis. Now, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has partnered with startup Archer Aviation to accelerate electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft production.

The California-based Archer plans to unveil its first electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft design later this year and plans to enter production in 2023.

This timeline is one of the reasons for the merger, as it will enable Archer “to benefit from access to FCA’s low-cost supply chain, advanced composite materials capabilities, and engineering and design expertise.” Speaking of the latter, the two companies have already been working on “cockpit design elements” for future aircraft.

Little is known about the aircraft at this point, but the teaser image reveals that it will use six propellers. Presumably, they rotate in such a way as to provide the aforementioned vertical takeoff and landing capability. The 100% electric aircraft will be capable of traveling distances of up to 60 miles (96 km) at 150 mph (241 km/h).

The so-called air taxis will be produced in high volume, and the companies said the partnership is aimed at “significantly decreasing the cost of production, enabling Archer to bring affordably priced service to customers via its ultra-quiet, high-performance eVTOL aircraft.”

The company says it is creating the world’s first all-electric airline that moves people throughout the world’s cities in a quick, safe, sustainable, and cost-effective manner. With this in mind, it looks like the plane was designed as a flying taxi for use in major cities.

In any case, it will take a long time before similar aircraft can invade the skies of large cities: first of all, it will be necessary to introduce new rules for travel in the airspace. The idea is to take advantage of the vertical dimension of the urban space to alleviate at least part of the surface traffic by offering a transport service capable of guaranteeing travel times reduced to a minimum and zero impact on the environment, obviously without compromising on safety.

We’ve been hyper-focused on a customer-first approach to vehicle design and aircraft operations,” said Brett Adcock, co-founder, and co-CEO of Archer. “Now, we are working with a seasoned, industry-leading automotive partner to leverage cost benefits and experience that will allow Archer to produce thousands of aircraft reliably and affordably every single year.

Archer Aviation is not the only company committed to this purpose: among others are Porsche-Boeing, Vertical Aerospace, Uber-Joby Aviation, Hyundai, Kitty Hawk, and Volocopter.