When we last cast our eyes to the imaginary skies of the future, the airways looked ambitiously crowded. A whole host of players is poised to clutter up the clouds with various shapes and sizes of eVTOL aircraft. While the renderings looked lovely and the concept of swift, emission-free rapid transit from downtown to wherever is very tempting, we’re still a few years from reality.
The industry just got a big boost with the announcement that automotive titan Stellantis is getting in on the game. The multinational carmaker has a brand portfolio that includes Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Maserati and Jeep, amongst many others. Now another company is joining the fold. Stellantis has announced a partnership with Californian start-up Archer Aviation.
Stellantis has been working closely behind the scenes with the Santa Clara company for two years, and this month’s news is that the forthcoming Midnight eVTOL aircraft will be built using the auto-maker’s expertise and investment, streamlining and accelerating the path to production.
Stellantis isn’t the only company looking to get into the air taxi market; Hyundai Motor has shown several mock-ups of aircraft and urban landing hubs in recent years, all part of an Urban Air Mobility system designed to dovetail with its conventional electric cars.
Midnight eVTOL aircraft by Archer Aviation
Archer Aviation, which was founded by Adam Goldstein in 2018, is already test-flying the smaller two-seater Maker eVTOL craft. Midnight, which was unveiled in 2021, is expected to go into production in the next 18 months. To be built in Covington, Georgia, the five-seater (four passengers plus pilot) is specifically designed for short back-to-back journeys of up to 20 miles each way. The V-tailed machine is about the same size as a small executive jet, with 12 wing-mounted electric propellors providing lift and thrust.
The total range is projected to be around 100 miles, adding plenty of failsafe capacity into the likely use case, and Archer Aviation reckons it’ll take ten minutes to charge the Midnight between legs. Testing, compliance, legislation and even urban planning will all have to be shifted in a bold new direction before the skies are teeming with Midnights.
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Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
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