Germany-based Volocopter has reached an important agreement aimed at tapping into what could be one of the world’s largest eVTOL markets: China.
On Wednesday, Volocopter announced a joint venture agreement with Aerofugia to buy 150 eVTOL aircraft and to manufacture additional aircraft and parts in China.
In a statement, Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said the deal marks an “important milestone on our journey to bring affordable electric air mobility to China, the biggest single market opportunity for the UAM [urban air mobility] industry.”
This is just the latest development across the emerging eVTOL industry, which is hurtling quickly toward providing environmentally friendly air taxi service for short hops across traffic congested urban areas and between regional cities.
The landmark agreement will result in a new company. Volocopter Chengdu will be based in Chengdu, a transportation hub in Western China. The city also serves as a manufacturing base for Aerofugia’s parent company, Geely Technology Group.
The deal allows Volocopter to work closely with government agencies to bring urban air mobility to China within three to five years, according to the release.
Volocopter is developing three eVTOL models—for short routes around town, for suburb-to-city routes, and for transporting heavy-lift goods.
Although none have entered service, the company has performed demonstration flights with its 2X test aircraft.
In July, at the annual AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the 2X briefly took to the sky in what Volocopter called the first ever publicly-crewed test flight of a fully electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi in the United States.
Volocopter also has been getting attention in France, where the company projects an air taxi service to be available during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
Last week in Los Angeles, Volocopter said it has joined forces with a local community-government partnership to enter Southern California’s quickly developing eVTOL market.
Daniel Li Donghui—CEO of Volocopter Chengdu’s parent company, Geely Holding Group—has joined Volocopter’s advisory board as part of the agreement.
In the release, Reuter said the new partnership puts Volocopter “in pole position to introduce air taxi services globally in a safe, sustainable, and practical manner.”