During this year’s Paris Air Show, eVTOL developer SkyDrive announced a basic agreement with fellow Japanese manufacturer Suzuki Motor Corporation to assist in producing the former’s SKYDRIVE aircraft. SkyDrive also announced a redesign to its eVTOL that will now transport more passengers.
SkyDrive Inc. was officially established in Japan 2018 after four years of developing and testing flying car prototypes. The company began gaining recognition in the electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) community after successfully completing a crewed test flight of its flagship “flying car” aircraft in 2019.
Since then, SkyDrive has been developing its technology in search of certification from a range of air traffic regulators such as the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for US operations someday.
Before its announcement with Suzuki, SkyDrive shared new specifications of its eVTOL aircraft during the 2023 Paris Air Show – confirming the name of the vessel will in fact be the SKYDRIVE. Now longer, wider, and taller, the eVTOL can carry three people (two passengers, one pilot) as opposed to two in the previous design.
The eVTOL can also now haul an additional 700 pounds of weight (3,100 lbs. total) and fly about 5-10km further on a single charge. With a patent application for its rotor design in place and a new seating layout, SkyDrive intends to move its eVTOL to the next phase of manufacturing with the help of Suzuki.
Suzuki opens its doors to eVTOL production
Under the basic agreement announced in Paris today, SkyDrive will establish a wholly-owned subsidiary created for the sole purpose of eVTOL manufacturing with Suzuki. The subsidiary will occupy a portion of a Suzuki Group production facility in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.
Additionally, Suzuki will assist the eVTOL manufacturing subsidiary in acquiring human resources, helping prep the space as more specific terms and conditions of the agreement are hashed out. SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa spoke to the collaboration:
At Suzuki, all manufacturing activities are based on a concept, ‘Smaller, Fewer, Lighter, Shorter, and Neater’ and SkyDrive is developing lightweight air mobilities. Suzuki and SkyDrive have been collaborating since March 2022 and we are very excited that SkyDrive will utilize the production facility of Suzuki to build our eVTOL ‘SKYDRIVE.’ In our pursuit to consistently manufacture safe and high-quality aircraft for the world, we are grateful for the valuable know-how we will learn from Suzuki, a global leader in automobile mass production. Suzuki and SkyDrive will work closely towards the shared goal.
The companies state that they are aiming to begin building SKYDRIVE eVTOLs at the Suzuki facility by the spring of 2024. SkyDrive Inc. has also shared plans to obtain airworthiness certification for the Expo 2025 Osaka in Japan for its individual aircraft to be operated in accordance with the necessary standards.
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