June 23, 2023
Automaker Suzuki is stepping up its effort to produce flying cars with fellow Japanese company SkyDrive.
Suzuki first revealed its intention to enter the arena of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) craft when it announced a commercial partnership with the firm based in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, in March of 2022.
Now it has formalized the arrangement further and explained how the partnership will operate.
The pair have confirmed that SkyDrive will establish a wholly owned subsidiary to manufacture eVTOL craft at a Suzuki plant in Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan, with production planned to start by spring 2024.
More immediately, Suzuki says it will help the subsidiary in acquiring staff and making other preparations for the start of manufacturing.
Confirmation of the deal was hailed by executives from both companies.
“At Suzuki, all manufacturing activities are based on a concept ‘Smaller, Fewer, Lighter, Shorter and Neater’ and SkyDrive is developing lightweight air mobilities,” said Tomohiro Fukuzawa, SkyDrive’s CEO.
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“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 Motor Corp. president Toshihiro Suzuki added: “We are excited to cooperate with SkyDrive as we ambitiously work towards creating valuable products that contribute to the realization of a world where people use the sky for their daily transportations.”
SkyDrive also provided an update to the specification of the eVTOL it is developing at this week’s Paris Air Show. The craft, which will be known simply as SkyDrive, will now have seating capacity for three people – one pilot and two passengers – rather than the two originally planned.
The company said in a statement: “The change will enable a more profitable operation and a more convenient and enjoyable experience.”
It was also confirmed that the craft will be 43 feet by 43 feet by 10 feet and feature 12 rotors. Maximum air speed is claimed to be 62 mph (54 knots), and operational range is now approximately 9 miles, up from the 3 to 6 miles originally targeted.
At the same time, SkyDrive reiterated its desire to launch its flying taxi service by 2025 to coincide with the World Exposition in Osaka, and also said it aims to obtain the type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that will allow it to start operations in the United States. Earlier this year it confirmed plans to establish an American base in South Carolina.
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