Hyundai Motor Group’s Urban Air Mobility Division has become the latest company involved in the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) space to join the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) as an “associate member full.” The South Korean automotive group announced its intentions to enter the air mobility market at the start of 2020, but has yet to report any further progress or a timeline for service entry for its planned Personal Air Vehicles. (PAVs).
GAMA created the associate member full category in 2018 as a growing number of companies jumped into eVTOL, hybrid/electric, autonomous, and other emerging technology fields. Hyundai has become the ninth member currently in that category, but another two dozen companies involved in such technologies have joined the association as an associate member EPIC (Electric Propulsion and Innovation Committee) category. The "associate member full" category of membership enables a deeper commitment to and participation in the association.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2020, Hyundai announced a partnership with Uber Elevate to develop air taxis and released its concept for an eVTOL, the all-electric S-A1 PAV that will cruise at 180 mph at 1,000 to 2,000 feet with a range of up to 60 miles. The S-A1 is to have distributed electric propulsion, powering multiple rotors and propellers around the airframe.
According to Hyundai, its urban air mobility partnership with Uber will be advanced in tandem with wider plans for more environmentally sustainable transportation. The company has plans to develop a network of so-called Hub "mobility connection points" where travelers would transfer between electric aircraft and "Purpose Built Vehicles" for ground transportation.
The design for the four-passenger S-A1 unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas featured four sets of rotors for vertical lift and four propellers for cruise flight. Initially, the aircraft would have a pilot onboard but Hyundai envisages autonomous operations eventually.
According to Hyundai, the batteries for the S-A1 will only take between five- and seven minutes to recharge but the company has provided no further information on the vehicle's propulsion system. At the time of the announcement, Uber indicated that it expects the Hyundai eVTOL to be ready to enter service in 2028.
In early September 2020, Hyundai started posting around 50 new vacancies in its urban air mobility division to fill various engineering positions at its facilities in California. The company is also recruiting a corporate communications manager, which may lead to greater visibility for its eVTOL program.
“It is exciting to see automotive manufacturers enter the advanced air mobility sector of the aviation industry. The innovative technologies that are coming out of this rapidly growing sector are propelling general and business aviation into the future,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce.