The German eVTOL developer Volocopter and China’s Geely Technology Group are laying the groundwork for future urban air mobility (UAM) services in China with a joint presence at Auto Shanghai 2021.
Volocopter is exhibiting its 2X eVTOL prototype at Geely’s booth at the show, which is open to the public from April 21-28. Geely — an automotive company with brands including Volvo and Lotus — was announced as a strategic investor in Volocopter in 2019, when the companies also said they would enter into a joint venture to advance UAM in the Chinese market.
According to a press release, the companies have already applied for a business license for the joint venture, and have been working together to identify potential launch markets within China. Because they expect public acceptance to be critical for the success of UAM, their exhibit at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition aims “to show the concrete value electric air taxi services will provide.”
“Geely’s market leadership in China and forward-thinking approach to expanding mobility options make them a great strategic investor,” stated Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter. “They are an invaluable partner for bringing urban air mobility to China — one of the most promising markets for the UAM industry globally.”
Charlie Jing, CEO of the Geely subsidiary Aerofugia, said: “Volocopter is the pioneer and leader of safe, sustainable, and practical eVTOL solutions for air taxi services in cities around the world. Together, we will have both the technology and means of production to launch urban air mobility ecosystems in Chinese cities.”
The full-size Volocopter 2X multicopter is the predecessor to the VoloCity, the production air taxi that Volocopter aims to certify in the next two years. The 2X has been used for multiple public demonstrations, including 2019 demos in Stuttgart, Germany, and Singapore.
Volocopter said its VoloCity — which, like the 2X, will be a two-seat multicopter with 18 rotors — will have an increased speed of 110 kilometers per hour (68 miles per hour) and longer flight duration of 35 minutes after accounting for battery reserve.
Besides its investment in Volocopter, Geely acquired the Massachusetts-based flying car company Terrafugia in 2017, subsequently establishing a UAM research and development team in China. Last year, Geely shared new images of a winged eVTOL air taxi called the Terrafugia TF-2A, and announced the launch of flight testing of a metal frame test bed in support of that project.
In the latest press release, Geely said it “has made significant investment in general aviation, with Aerofugia being the key platform to carry out related businesses.”