British start-up Urban-Air Port Ltd (UAP) has secured investment from Supernal, previously the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group – the first time a major eVTOL company has invested in a ground infrastructure developer.
The partnership will deliver on the companies’ shared vision of integrating advanced air mobility into existing transit networks and creating a seamless passenger journey. Adam Slepian, Global Head of Partnerships & Business Development at Supernal, has now joined Urban Air-Port’s board of directors, effective immediately, while Matthew Sattler, Head of Infrastructure and Ecosystems Partnerships at Supernal, joins UAP’s board of advisors.
The funding will help support UAP’s plans to develop 200 vertiport sites across the world in the next five years. The company describes them as ultra-compact, rapidly deployable, operations hubs for manned and unmanned vehicles providing aircraft command and control, charging/refuelling, and cargo and passenger loading. Its world-first Air-One project in Coventry City Centre will be operational from April 2022.
Ricky Sandhu, Founder and Executive Chairman of Urban-Air Port, said: “Cars need roads. Trains need rails. Planes need airports. eVTOLs need Urban-Air Ports. Despite the unparalleled potential of eVTOL aircraft to revolutionise mobility, the importance of the ground infrastructure that enables them is too often overlooked.
“With Supernal’s investment and expertise and connection to Hyundai Motor Group, we can supercharge the rollout of sustainable, intermodal and scalable ground infrastructure that will unleash the future of advanced air mobility globally. We are assembling a group of aligned financial and corporate venture capital investors that will extend our leadership. I look forward to welcoming further investors into UAP.”
UAP’s vertiport sites will provide essential infrastructure to help enable mass adoption of eVTOL aircraft – such as cargo drones and air taxis – as public acceptance grows and will transform the way goods and people are transported around urban areas.
The world’s first fully operational hub for eVTOLs, Air-One, will open for public visitation in Coventry and the demonstration will show how AAM can help unlock the potential of sustainable mobility. It will also showcase how the industry will work to help reduce congestion, cut air pollution and decarbonise transport.
The urban air mobility market is forecasted to grow by 9 per cent annually, reaching US$12.7 billion by 2027[i] and up to US$1 trillion in the next 20 years[ii]. However, lack of ground infrastructure remains one of the biggest barriers to the growth of the AAM industry.
For example, only 3 per cent of industry investment in 2021 (US$150 million) was in the physical ground infrastructure[iii], despite 33 times that figure (US$5 billion) announced for the development of eVTOL vehicles in the same period[iv].
Supernal is both convening public and private stakeholders to responsibly shape the AAM industry and developing its own eVTOL and plans to launch its first commercial flight in 2028. The company’s investment in the start-up will help support the development of UAP’s new ‘vertiport’ models including the CityBox delivery drone hub, and expansion into new markets.
Jaiwon Shin, Chief Executive Officer of Supernal and President, Hyundai Motor Group, said: “At Supernal, we are on a mission to transform how people and society move, connect, and live; therefore, it is essential we not only develop electric air vehicles, but also help shape the broader advanced air mobility market from the ground up.
“We are pleased to continue working with Urban-Air Port and support its efforts to create ground infrastructure that works seamlessly with eVTOLs and integrates the advanced air mobility industry with existing modes of transportation.”
Urban-Air Port is backed by major international partners. As well as Supernal, its team of innovators, aeronautical engineers and aerospace experts have worked at companies including Airbus, Foster + Partners, Arup, JP Morgan, Knight Frank, British Aviation Group, Qinetiq and Uber, and in the UK Defence Sector.