The race is on for the prime spots in the impend­ing eVTOL rev­o­lu­tion and major car-mak­ers are deter­mined to grab a seat at the top-table. pub­lished an infor­ma­tive piece by auto­mo­tive jour­nal­ist, Jaclyn Trop, last week, (Amus­ing­ly, her Twit­ter han­dle reads, “I have the job a mil­lion teenage boys would die for”) high­light­ing the top six part­ner­ships.

An obvi­ous ques­tion: Why are car com­pa­nies so keen to get involved? eVTOLs are pri­mar­i­ly fly­ing taxis and/or car­go car­ri­ers. Why do they wish to col­lab­o­rate in a mar­ket so dif­fer­ent to theirs?

Jaclyn Trop

Part­ner­ing actu­al fly­ing car devel­op­ers like the Klein­Vi­sion Air­Car or the Leo Coupe, for exam­ple, makes a lot more sense. As Trop points out, “(It is) an odd match, but the gold rush towards the new era of avi­a­tion will neces­si­tate build­ing these elec­tric air­craft at auto­mo­tive scale to meet fore­cast­ed demand in 10 years.”

She explains it is about man­u­fac­tur­ing brag­ging rights rather than fly­ing. Trop con­tin­ues, “That’s why auto­mo­bile man­u­fac­tur­ers and eVTOL devel­op­ers are pair­ing up now, like high-school seniors at the prom. Beyond cred­i­bil­i­ty, the avi­a­tion start-ups are get­ting cash invest­ments from the car­mak­ers as well as tech­nol­o­gy and advice on how to build at auto­mo­tive scale.”

It is also because auto mar­ques are learn­ing more about advanced com­pos­ites and aero­dy­nam­ics which make them even more attrac­tive for the eVTOL indus­try.

Klein­Vi­sion Air­Car (cred­it: Klein­Vi­sion)

Deutsche Bank ana­lyst, Edi­son Yu, offers grav­i­tas to this ratio­nale. “The main rea­son is oper­a­tional prowess, mean­ing that automak­ers are very good at mak­ing stuff con­sis­tent­ly at high vol­ume, with a sup­ply chain that is very deep and diverse.”

So, what are the top six col­lab­o­ra­tions?

Joby Avi­a­tion — Toy­ota

Last year Toy­ota made a USD390 mil­lion invest­ment in the eVTOL leader, Joby Avi­a­tion. Besides the cash infu­sion, the car man­u­fac­tur­er has been guid­ing Joby on process­es at its new pro­duc­tion facil­i­ty. Joby recent­ly report­ed that it was able to decrease the foot­print of the fac­to­ry by 100,000 square feet, while at the same time increas­ing effi­cien­cy.

Archer Avi­a­tion — Stel­lan­tis

Archer has part­nered with Stel­lan­tis, the world’s fifth largest automak­er, born from a merg­er between Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group last year. It is the bat­tery tech­nol­o­gy that is most attrac­tive for the eVTOL com­pa­ny. Trop explains, “Stel­lan­tis’ scale will allow Archer to pur­chase the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of bat­ter­ies at sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er costs than com­peti­tors who may not have a major automak­er as its part­ner.”

Eve Air Mobil­i­ty — Porsche

Eve Air Mobil­i­ty, already backed by the Brazil­ian mul­ti-nation­al aero­space man­u­fac­tur­er, Embraer, is work­ing with Porsche to devel­op its man­u­fac­tur­ing, sup­ply chain and parts dis­tri­b­u­tion. Andrew Stein, CEO of Eve said in June, “The part­ner­ship is designed to address scal­a­bil­i­ty and dis­trib­uted pro­duc­tion. The UAM ecosys­tem is quick­ly evolv­ing, and we can only achieve our goal if we spark enthu­si­asm for new ideas in man­u­fac­tur­ing and sup­ply chain areas.”

Lil­i­um — Den­so

Ger­man start­up, Lil­i­um, is part­ner­ing with automak­er Den­so and avi­a­tion spe­cial­ist Hon­ey­well to co-devel­op and man­u­fac­ture the spe­cial­ist elec­tric motors that pow­er the Lil­i­um Jet’s engines. Hon­ey­well already has an alliance with Den­so to devel­op elec­tric propul­sion solu­tions for aero­space. Lil­i­um says it will ben­e­fit from Honeywell’s exper­tise and Denso’s vol­ume pro­duc­tion. The part­ners have been work­ing togeth­er for two years.

Volo­copter Sign Deal with Geely for 150 eVTOLs (Cred­it: Volo­copter)

Volo­copter — Geely — Daim­ler

Volo­copter has received finan­cial back­ing from two auto giants. Geely invest­ed USD55 mil­lion back in 2019 as part of a joint ven­ture to bring urban air mobil­i­ty to the Chi­nese mar­ket includ­ing the pur­chase of 150 air taxis. Mean­while, Daim­ler Group had ear­li­er raised around USD90 mil­lion for the eVTOL com­pa­ny. Trop writes, “It’s not clear if either automak­er is pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal advice or any oth­er exper­tise to Volo­copter.”

Super­nal — Hyundai

Hyundai has com­mit­ted a stag­ger­ing USD1.5 bil­lion to fund­ing its sub­sidiary, Super­nal, as the com­pa­ny devel­ops and moves towards pro­duc­ing a five-seat eVTOL air taxi, penned in for com­mer­cial ser­vice dur­ing 2028.

Chung Eui-sun, Chair­man of Hyundai Motors, has been com­mit­ted to the project for five years. Accord­ing to Jai­won Shin, CEO of Super­nal, Hyundai is ini­tial­ly offer­ing its exper­tise to help the eVTOL com­pa­ny, “devel­op a more com­fort­able expe­ri­ence, start­ing with the inte­ri­or.”

At the July Farn­bor­ough Air­show, Mike Whit­tak­er, Supernal’s CCO, gave, a per­son­al pre­sen­ta­tion of its inte­ri­or cab­in. First, he demon­strat­ed a con­sul that lift­ed up next to the seats. This can do two things when the craft is fly­ing. Con­trol the tem­per­a­ture, allow­ing the pas­sen­ger to adjust the cli­mate with­in the cab­in, and charge a mobile phone dur­ing tran­sit.

Whit­tak­er then men­tioned some of the pos­i­tive feed­back gained from the pub­lic includ­ing how light the cab­in is colour-wise; the amount of space avail­able par­tic­u­lar­ly for leg-room; how open the cab­in area is and its var­i­ous lines of sight; the excel­lent light­ing as well as the var­i­ous seat fea­tures includ­ing a hand grab and a hook on the back to hang a jack­et or coat.

Mike Whit­tak­er at Farn­bor­ough Enjoy­ing Super­nal’s Com­fort­able Inte­ri­or

As he point­ed out, bring­ing a car design­er into the loop has real­ly helped the design with the aim to cre­ate a mem­o­rable cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Whit­tak­er explained, “In aero­space, there’s a ten­den­cy to focus on the tech­nol­o­gy of the air­craft, and then stick seats in it. Cars are much more pas­sen­ger-cen­tric.”

The take­away from these col­lab­o­ra­tions can be summed up with one infa­mous phrase: “Quid-Pro-Quo.” The eVTOL com­pa­nies offer the car man­u­fac­tur­ers a seat at the top table and in return they gain all the partner’s man­u­fac­tur­ing expe­ri­ence and exper­tise.

(News Source:

(Top image: Archer)