Stellantis NV will become a manufacturing partner to Archer Aviation for the latter’s new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, pledging to invest up to $150 million of equity capital by 2024. The start-up aircraft business is building a manufacturing plant in Covington, Ga., which is scheduled to be in production by next year.
An eVTOL, or urban air taxi, is an electric-powered aircraft able to hover, take-off, and land vertically. The Archer Midnight eVTOL is to be powered by lithium-ion battery packs, providing 142 KWh of energy and a maximum power of 1,300 KW.
The Midnight eVTOL is designed to carry up to four passengers and a pilot – a payload over 1,000 lbs. – with a range of 100 miles, mainly short-distance trips of around 20 miles. The aircraft will have short charging time of approximately 10 minutes – meaning it is seen as a shuttle craft for point-to-point service in dense urban settings.
According to their joint statement Archer is providing expertise in eVTOL design, electric powertrain and certification, and Stellantis is contributing advanced manufacturing technology and expertise, as well as personnel.
“The goal is for Stellantis to mass produce Archer’s eVTOL aircraft as its exclusive contract manufacturer,” according to a joint statement.
In addition to the capital investment, Stellantis plans to raise its existing stake in Archer through open-market stock purchases, though CEO Carlos Tavares said the automaker would remain a minority stakeholder.
Among the airframe manufacturers involved in different eVTOL projects are Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer, with propulsion systems being developed by GE Aviation, Rolls-Royce, and Pratt & Whitney, among others. Honeywell Inc. is developing avionics technology specific to eVTOL operation.
Automakers involved in the eVTOL sector include Honda, Hyundai, Renault, and Toyota. Commercial airlines also are investors in eVTOLs, including United Airlines: it has committed itself to the Embraer Eve project as well as to Archer Aviation.
In November, Archer and United Airlines announced they will establish the first commercial electric air-taxi route in the U.S., from Manhattan to Newark Liberty International Airport. No launch date was indicated.