Volocopter-Geely Joint Venture Orders 150 eVTOL Aircraft
Volocopter and Aerofugia, a subsidiary of Chinese auto giant Geely, have created a joint venture that has ordered 150 Volocopter eVTOL aircraft.
Under the name Volocopter (Chengdu) Technology, the new venture aims to offer UAM solutions to China. The first markets it is eyeing are the cities of Chengdu and Chongqing.
The German company has also inked a manufacturing agreement with Volocopter Chengdu and General Aviation Manufactory Base of Geely Technology to produce Volocopter’s electric-vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft and parts in Chengdu.
Volocopter Chengdu CEO Guo Liang said in a presentation that China faces talent shortages, especially in areas of general aviation, and autonomous UAM solutions are likely to overcome that manpower challenge. In addition, Guo said the unexploited lower-altitude air travel market presents development opportunities for UAM, and noted that there is not the conflict with general aviation in China that is commonly seen in the West.
Guo added that before carrying passengers, the eVTOL will first transport cargo to test reliability and increase confidence in the system. He added that as the mountainous west of China undergoes rapid modernization and development, these regions will benefit from the establishment of autonomous cargo UAM.
Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter noted that EASA and Chinese regulator the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) had agreed on a bilateral aviation safety agreement for reciprocal validation of type certificates. Volocopter is currently working to achieve EASA certification of the VoloCity eVTOL aircraft within the next two to three years.
In Asia, Volocopter conducted manned live demonstrations in late 2019 in Singapore—another market it has identified for its UAM services.
At the Shanghai Auto Show this April, Volocopter and Geely announced their intention to enter into a partnership. The venture will be exhibiting at the Zhuhai Airshow from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3.