The German eVTOL developer Volocopter and Aerofugia, a subsidiary of China’s Geely Technology Group, have finalized a joint venture company to launch urban air mobility (UAM) operations in China within the next three to five years.
The joint venture, which was in the works during the companies’ appearance at Auto Shanghai this spring, will be headquartered in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, and operate as Volocopter (Chengdu) Technology Co. In addition to being a key economic, cultural, and transportation hub, Chengdu is home to a manufacturing base for Geely, meaning that the location will afford the new venture enhanced access to Geely’s production capability and industrial distribution expertise.
According to a press release, the joint venture has signed an agreement to purchase 150 Volocopter aircraft. Volocopter has also signed a contract manufacturing agreement with Volocopter Chengdu and General Aviation Manufactory Base of Geely Technology for the production of Volocopter’s aircraft and parts in China in anticipation of what Volocopter expects to be a “fast-growing demand for air taxi services after commercial launch in China.”
Florian Reuter, Volocopter CEO, noted that the joint venture builds upon an existing relationship. “Geely has been a valuable partner since they became our strategic investor in 2019. Today marks another important milestone on our journey to bring affordable electric air mobility to China, the biggest single market opportunity for the UAM industry,” he stated.
Concurrently, Geely Holding Group’s CEO, Daniel Li Donghui, has joined Volocopter’s advisory board.
Jing Chao, chairman of Volocopter Chengdu, cited the alignment of the companies’ interests, saying, “UAM is an important part of the new aviation industry, which coincides with Aerofugia’s technical route and business plan of ‘new energy, vertical landing and take-off, and autonomous driving.’ As an investor for both Aerofugia and Volocopter, Geely looks forward to Volocopter Chengdu realizing urban air mobility in the near future.”
The joint venture is emblematic of what Ingrid Delfs, consul of the German Consulate General in Chengdu, called a “deepening Sino-German cooperation “that will bring benefits to both countries.”
Volocopter and Geely will jointly participate in the Zhuhai Airshow from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3.