Joby Aviation is acquiring the Uber Elevate urban air mobility platform and intends to use it, under a new name, to offer flights in its own aircraft.
South Korea's Hyundai unveiled its S-A1 eVTOL program on January 7, 2020, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. At the same time, rideshare group Uber announced that the car manufacturer is now a partner in its plans to launch an air-taxi network called Uber Air.
Hyundai's engineering team aims to have a full-scale prototype ready to start test flights in 2023, with the company targeting type certification in 2028. The four-seat aircraft will initially be piloted, but might subsequently fly autonomously, at which point passenger capacity could increase to six. The all-electric S-A1 is expected to be able to fly up to around 60 miles (100 km) at speeds of up to 180 mph (290 km/h) while cruising at between 1,000 and 2,000 feet. A key design goal, as per Uber's specifications, is for the aircraft to be able to be fully recharged within five to seven minutes.
Hyundai somewhat confusingly refers to the S-A1 as a "personal air vehicle" even though it is evidently intended for air taxi operations carrying four passengers. The company's strategy calls for the aircraft to be part of a wider mobility "ecosystem" that would also include new S-Link Purpose Built Vehicles to carry passengers to and from flights that would operate from so-called S-Hub and S-Hub Skyport facilities.
In April, Hyundai announced the appointment of Scott Drennan as executive vice president of the division, having recruited him from helicopter maker Bell, where he was involved in the Nexus eVTOL program. However, this month Drennan announced via his LinkedIn profile that he had left the company to launch his own engineering company called Drennan Innovation. Chief operating officer Pamela Cohn now heads the new division.
In July Hyundai announced its partnership with Urban-Air Port to explore “multifunctional and scalable” infrastructure to support the use of UAMs. The Korean automotive company further revealed its plans to invest $1.5B in the urban air mobility sector over the next five years.
In September, Hyundai also announced a partnership with Incheon International Airport Corp, located in Korean capital Seoul, to work together on test flights.
In October 2020, Hyundai broke ground on a new Innovation Center in Singapore in a further sign of its long-term commitment to developing mobility technology. The group's Urban Air Mobility Division appears to be largely based in the U.S. where a management team still appears to be at a formative stage.
The Korean carmaker still intends for its first eVTOL aircraft to enter service in 2028, as Hyundai COO and Hyundai North America CEO José Muñoz reaffirmed, "this project is progressing as planned."