Hyundai’s Electric Air Taxi Prepares for 2028 Takeoff

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The Hyundai Group, maker of many of our favorite electric vehicles, has set its sights on becoming a leader in electric aircraft.

At CES 2024, Hyundai’s advanced air mobility wing Supernal unveiled its new second-generation S-A2, an electric air taxi with vertical take-off and landing, or eVTOL.

The Korean company announced that it will broadcast from 2028.

Hyundai has been working on eVTOL for several years. You may remember that the Hyundai Urban Air Mobility SA-1 in partnership with Uber Air debuted at CES 2020.

At the time, the first flights were expected to begin around 2023.

Today, Uber Air is no more, Hyundai Urban Air Mobility is now Supernal, and the second-generation S-A2 has flipped the script on its name and expected launch window.

The battery-powered plane has room for four passengers, their luggage, and a pilot inside the V-shaped tail fuselage. Eight rotors provide propulsion for the plane.

In the vertical take-off position, the front four points up and the back four points down.

Once in the air, the aircraft can turn the eight rotors into a horizontal orientation for more efficient fixed-wing flight.

The VTOL design means it can take off from a helipad, making it ideal for operating in cities where it can take off and land on rooftops.

Because it’s all-electric, the plane should be quieter than traditional helicopters, both inside and out.

I’m told that the S-A2 only reaches up to 65 decibels indoors (about the sound of a vacuum cleaner) during takeoff and drops to 45 decibels when cruising, so passengers shouldn’t have to wear headphones to protect their hearing—each other.

Supernal estimates the average flight will be between 25 and 40 miles with a top speed of 120 mph and a cruising altitude of 1,500 feet, much lower and slower than a commercial flight with a much shorter range.

Supernal tells us that the S-A2 is not intended to replace commercial airlines but to complement them.

The eVTOL’s performance is good enough for short distances, such as getting from a busy, congested city center to a suburban airport in minutes, rather than being stuck in traffic for hours.

The avionics brand says the S-A2’s modular design means that as battery technology continues to improve, the aircraft will improve with it, incorporating faster charging or more energy-dense storage as the technology improves.

Hyundai also confirmed that it has the means to mass-produce the S-A2 using modular cell-based manufacturing techniques currently pioneering at its HMGICS highly automated plant in Singapore, which I was able to visit recently.

The craft sure looks great on stage. Electric aircraft and battery technology have advanced enough in the past four years that the concept of an electric air taxi remains exciting and, hopefully, possible.

Senior leadership certainly believes its eVTOL aircraft is ready to move from sci-fi concept to real-life comfort with the first commercial flights expected to begin in 2028.

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