Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) signed an agreement this week with Archer Aviaton, an American electric aviation mobility company. The plan is for FCA to start producing electric aircraft that take off and land vertically using the so-called VTOL principle in 2023.
The traditional automotive sector is setting its sights on electric propulsion of vehicles that aren’t solely intended for use on roads.
The prototype that Archer showcased is a four-seater with twelve rotors (six of which are visible in the photo). These are powered by a set of 143 kWh batteries with the following power consumption. 26 kWh for takeoff and landing; 80 kWh of power when the aircraft is at cruising speed (maximum speed is 240 km per hour); and 37 kWh of emergency reserve. The battery accounts for one third of the weight of the aircraft. This Archer model has a range of 100 kilometers. FCA has already been working with Archer for some time. For instance, the Italians had worked on the design of the cockpit.
Success hinges on the regulations
This collaborative agreement is yet another sign that the traditional automotive sector is setting its sights on electric propulsion of vehicles that aren’t solely intended for use on roads. This week, General Motors unveiled the design (though no more than just the design) of its first Cadillac passenger drone. Earlier this year, Toyota announced its investment in Joby Aviation, which is also preparing to manufacture eVTOL models. While Hyundai is developing a flying taxi in partnership with Uber. The success of many of these developments hinges on aviation mobility regulations and international aviation authorities.
There is no turning back for Fiat, says Doug Ostermann, head of global business development at FCA. “Electrification within the transport sector, whether on the road or in the air, is the future.” According to a study carried out by Morgan Stanley, the sustainable aviation mobility market, including the electric form, will be worth $1.5 trillion in revenue by 2040.
Fiat is being taken over by Stellantis
The announcement of the partnership between FCA and Archer comes at a time when the Italian-American partnership is merging with French group PSA (Peugeot SA). Today is the last day that shares in FCA and PSA can be traded. Both companies will be taken over by Stellantis on Monday. From Tuesday onwards, the new Stellantis shares will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange (and on two European exchanges as of Monday). The holding company is based in Amsterdam. This merger will establish the largest automotive group in Europe.