Stellantis, the Netherlands-based manufacturer of Jeep and Chrysler vehicles, is collaborating with Archer Aviation to begin making electric air taxis. Archer is a San Jose-based company seeking to commercialize electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs) with a range of up to 100 miles, traveling at speeds up to 150 mph.
The Stellantis/Archer deal is indicative of a transportation trend that’s bringing together automakers with a bevy of aviation startups working on electric “air taxis,” reports Axios.
Standing in the way of the establishment of an air mobility industry is Federal Aviation Administration certification for companies seeking to provide the service, though that clearance is expected within the next couple of years.
Archer co-founder and CEO Adam Goldstein said, “the partnership helps considerably de-risk and accelerate Archer’s ability to get to market and produce vehicles at scale.”
Air taxis are essentially large drones capable of carrying several passengers across metropolitan areas, as well as to and from airports. Automakers are interested in air taxis to help ensure they stay involved in the latest transportation trends.
Stellantis aims to manufacture the electric air taxis designed by Archer Aviation, which is nearing commercialization. As part of the deal, Stellantis will invest $150 million in Archer, in addition to the $75 million investment it made in 2021. What’s more, Stellantis has been providing Archer with engineering expertise, according to Axios, and will help it build a manufacturing facility in Covington, Ga., starting in 2024. The new plant will manufacture Archer’s newly revealed eVTOL, called Midnight, and Stellantis plans to become the exclusive manufacturer of that vehicle, which can carry five passengers plus a pilot. It is designed for back-to-back hops of around 20 miles, with about 10 minutes of charging between flights.
Axios reports that its first route, starting in 2025, will link a Manhattan heliport to Newark Liberty International Airport, in partnership with United Airlines — also an Archer investor.
The Wall Street Journal pointed out that Stellantis has also invested in a car-sharing rental firm, similar to Zipcar, and, like other car companies, is trying to diversify its business model, particularly in urban areas where many people don’t own a car.
Stellantis is cutting back in other areas, as it tries to restructure its business to invest in costly new technologies, such as electric vehicles, reports The Journal.
In addition to Stellantis, several other carmakers have partnered with air-taxi startups, writes Axios, including:
- Toyota, a major investor in Archer rival Joby Aviation
- Porsche, which partnered with Embraer’s Eve Air Mobility to begin mass production of its four-passenger eVTOL aircraft
- Hyundai, which created its own eVTOL spinoff name Supernal
- Honda, developer of its own business jet, also plans to produce an air taxi
- Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, which has partnered with Germany’s Volocopter
While air-taxi companies are developing and testing their airborne vehicles, the Federal Aviation Administration has been working on pilot requirements and looking into how to integrate planned vehicles into the airspace.
Mike Consol (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor of Real Assets Adviser. Follow him on Twitter (@mikeconsol) and LinkedIn (linkedIn.com/in/mikeconsol) to read his latest postings.