On The Radar
Since early January, when it announced plans to enter the eVTOL sector, South Korean carmaker Hyundai has kept its cards close to its chest over how the program will take shape. Had Uber not named the company as one of its partner manufacturers for the planned Uber Air rideshare network, it's quite possible that the program would be even more under wraps.
What we do know is that the planned four-seat all-electric SA-1 model is expected to be able to travel up to around 60 miles and at speeds of up to 180 mph. According to Uber’s specifications, it will need just five to seven minutes for a full recharge.
Hyundai's engineering team has set the goal of having a full-scale prototype ready to start test flights in 2023, which is when Uber wants to begin commercial operations. However, the SA-1 isn’t expected to complete type certification until 2028.
Transportation consultants Roland Berger managed to arrange an interview with Pamela Cohn who earlier this year was appointed chief operating officer of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility Division. She shed light on the company’s perspective on the urban air mobility (UAM) sector and commented on the following questions:
- How can UAM services be made widely available and avoid becoming an exclusive product available only to an elite market?
- How does Hyundai feel about the fact that other eVTOL pioneers seem set to beat it to market?
- How can the industry be sure that the complete ecosystem needed to support UAM service entry is ready?
- How can companies design aircraft for which technical standards and regulatory requirements are not yet fully established?
- What does the industry need to do to win public acceptance for this mode of transportation?
- How does Hyundai view the competition in this crowded and ultra-hyped sector?
Meanwhile, on October 13, the group held a virtual groundbreaking for its Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center in Singapore. The event was attended by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The facility, which is due to be operational by the end of 2022, will serve as an “open innovation lab” for what the group says are its plans to “revolutionize the future mobility value chain.” Hyundai has not said how much of the work for its SA-1 aircraft may be advanced through the new center in Singapore. It has established a presence in the U.S.
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. Cohn reports to Jaiwon Shin, who heads the new division.