Archer Aviation Inc. (NYSE: ACHR) said it entered an agreement with international carmaker Stellantis N.V. (NYSE: STLA) aimed at setting up manufacturing facilities and beginning mass production of Archer’s Midnight eVTOL aircraft in 2024.
The companies’ announcement could make the prospect of widespread eVTOL transport in the near future easier for pilots to visualize. This is mainly because the plan begins to answer questions regarding exactly how the aircraft will be built in large enough numbers to significantly affect the air mobility landscape.
Under the agreement Stellantis will help Archer prepare its recently announced manufacturing facility in Covington, Georgia, to begin turning out the Midnight, which is a development of the company’s prototype aircraft called the Maker.
Midnight is designed for quiet, sustainable operation and is expected to carry a pilot and four passengers over a range up to 100 miles. However, the company said the vehicle is optimized for operational cycles during which they would fly two consecutive trips of about 20 miles each followed by roughly 10 minutes of battery charging before making the next pair of flights. This is typical of the air taxi and shuttle operations that many eVTOL companies are targeting.
This agreement is intended to blend Archer’s expertise in eVTOL design, electric powertrains and aircraft certification with the global manufacturing might of Stellantis, which includes numerous international automotive brands ranging from Jeep and Chrysler to Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Peugeot.
Archer said it expects the combination to accelerate its development and commercialization process while avoiding the potentially staggering expense of ramping up aircraft production. The plan calls for Stellantis to act as Archer’s “exclusive contract manufacturer” of eVTOLs, the companies said. Archer and Stellantis have been strategic partners since 2020.
“We’ve been working closely with Archer for the past two years, and I am continually impressed
by their ingenuity and unwavering commitment to deliver,” said Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO.
“Deepening our partnership with Archer as a strategic investor with plans for growing our shareholding demonstrates how Stellantis is pushing the boundaries to provide sustainable freedom of mobility, from the road to the sky.”
Stellantis will also provide up to $150 million in equity capital for Archer this year and in 2024, subject to the achievement of certain business milestones which Archer said it expects to occur in 2023. Stellantis said it intends to increase its long-term stake in Archer through stock purchases on the open market.
Adam Goldstein, Archer’s founder and CEO, called the agreement a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine urban transportation,” adding that working with Stellantis puts Archer in a good position to beat the vast field of eVTOL startups to market.