Japanese car manufacturer Honda has begun developing eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, by blending its existing products with new technologies. As part of the firm’s ‘vision for the future’, it revealed was developing an eVTOL vehicle in April this year, and made a commitment to manufacturing electric-only vehicles by 2050.
Bloomberg Green reports that details of the new eVTOL aircraft have been revealed recently, but the new aircraft will not be fully electric. According to internal research art Honda, the strongest market for eVTOLs will be for regional travel, requiring a range of around 250 miles.
In a statement, the company said: “All-electric eVTOL aircraft face a range issue due to limited battery capacity, therefore the realistic use area is limited to intra-city transportation.”
To address that issue, Honda will develop a hybrid system that combines electric with a gas turbine.
A rendering of the aircraft shows it to be short-bodied, with eight medium-sized rotors to provide lift, mounted own booms that run from front to back, attaching to forward struts forward and a small aft wing. At the back, rearward-facing ducted fans generate thrust. The cabin appears to hold up to six passengers.
Honda has released a concept video that demonstrates its plans to develop an entire ‘mobile ecosystem’ with transportation hubs built around the eVTOL.
The firm says the yet-unnamed vehicle will tap into crossover knowledge and tech it has already amassed, including certification experience and turbine development from its aircraft division, high-speed generators from F1, battery and motor technology from its hybrid and electric cars, and sensors and controllers from its autonomous vehicles.
Honda expects to have working prototypes by 2023. However, the projected date for a fully certified version of the VTOL isn’t until 2030.
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