Air Taxis Will Utilize Next-Generation Batteries and Motors, Discusses IDTechEx
BOSTON, April 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Electrical Vertical Take-off and Landing aircraft (eVTOL) are moving from science fiction to reality, enabled by rapid advancements in electric motor, battery, and computing technology, the new report from IDTechEx, "Air Taxis: Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing Aircraft 2021-2041", finds. The report explores the potential of eVTOL aircraft to improve journey times between poorly connected locations in a way that is affordable, low emission, and quiet enough to operate within cities.
Today, leading eVTOL aircraft developers like Joby Aviation, Beta Technologies, and Wisk Aero are moving towards flight certification, with the intention to mass produce aircraft at more than 10 times the volume of today's general aviation aircraft manufacturers. Work is currently being undertaken both to deliver the advanced technologies required and to build the supply chain: a collaborative effort between eVTOL OEMs and their suppliers over the next decade will lay the foundation for future growth.
Over $4 billion has already been invested in the emerging eVTOL aircraft market and recent announcements by eVTOL start-ups Joby Aviation, Archer Aviation, and Lilium, who intend to go public via SPAC merger, are set to raise an additional $3+ billion in capital. Large aerospace suppliers are already committing significant resources to the urban air mobility market. Honeywell and Rolls-Royce are leaders, both having already established specialist units for urban air mobility, to explore technologies including electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems, avionics, actuation, aircraft structures, and autonomous flight systems.
Perhaps most critical is battery technology. Whilst eVTOL aircraft OEMs are building flight-capable prototype designs with current state-of-the-art battery pack energy densities of around 180 Wh/kg, air taxi range, endurance, and operational flexibility would be massively enhanced by battery improvement to energy densities greater than 400 Wh/kg. It is not viable to put today's automotive batteries, which have been designed with suitable power characteristics for ground transport, directly into eVTOL. IDTechEx expects high demand on energy density, power, cycle life, and safety will create opportunities and market entry points for emerging battery chemistries, including lithium metal solid-state batteries, which, whilst possibly too expensive for most automotive applications when they launch, may find a more receptive market in aviation which is less sensitive to the premium.