Volocopter partners with Geely for a flying taxi company in China
Volocopter has taken an important step towards realizing its plans to launch a flying taxi service using electric vertical take-off and landing planes.
The German company on Wednesday formed a joint venture with the aviation subsidiary of Geely Aerofugia to oversee the launch of a flying taxi service in China. Geely also owns 10% of Volocopter, which is equivalent to the stakes held by Daimler and Intel.
Geely created Aerofugia in 2017 following the acquisition of American flying car startup Terrafugia. Aerofugia specializes in drone applications for the agriculture, forestry and transportation industries and is looking to expand into the potentially lucrative new industry of urban air mobility.
âToday marks another important milestone in our journey to bring affordable electric air mobility to China, the biggest single market opportunity for the [urban air mobility] industry, âsaid Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter, in a statement.
The new joint venture between Volocopter and Aerofugia is based in Chengdu, in the Chinese province of Sichuan, and bears the name of Volocopter Chengdu Technology Co. It has already signed to purchase 150 aircraft from Volocopter, and will initially work closely working with aviation, transportation, and government agencies in Chengdu and other parts of China to bring urban air mobility to the country over the next three to five years.
Geely has several factories in Chengdu, including those of its subsidiaries Volvo and Polestar. The plan is also to build Volocopter planes in China as demand for flying taxi services in the country increases.
Volocopter’s first aircraft is the VoloCity, designed for short city center flights. The company is also developing the VoloConnect for longer flights and the VoloDrone for the transport of goods. The company is also developing an autonomous flight system for its planes, although initially there is a human pilot at the controls.
Volocopter has already demonstrated a prototype for the VoloCity. It has a range of 17 miles and a top speed of 62 mph. Volocopter also showed a more advanced design capable of a range of 22 miles and a top speed of 68 mph.