SkyDrive is about to launch eVTOL production at Suzuki plant in Japan

Suzuki and SkyDrive agreed to share business and technology in March 2022, and the cooperation has reached a new height. Suzuki is lending manufacturing capacity to SkyDrive to produce up to 100 eVTOLs annually starting in the Spring of 2024. 

The air taxi company reportedly founded a corresponding production company called Sky Works based in Iwata in Shizuoka prefecture in June this year.

The eVTOL slated for production expands on the previous two-seater SD-05. The new model is larger and seats one pilot and two passengers. The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of less than 1.5 tons. SkyDrive also mentions its patent-pending rotor frame technology that allows it to land on rooftops.

In other news, SkyDrive announced it has received an innovation grant of 12.4 billion yen (just under €78 million) from the Japanese government. The money is to go towards further development of the flying taxi to fully meet market requirements with the specifications required by operators and to be mass-produced.

The company is receiving the grant under the third round of funding from Japan’s Small and Medium Enterprise Innovation Promotion Project – SBIR for short. “The SBIR program enables SkyDrive to accelerate its research and development efforts, focusing on improving the performance, safety, and efficiency of its eVTOL aircraft,” writes the company. “It will also support the development of new technologies and systems necessary for the successful deployment of eVTOLs in Japan and beyond.”

Speaking of the beyond, the cooperation between SkyDrive and Suzuki initially focussed on India. Concerning its market development on the subcontinent, SkyDrive said today it was developing suitability use cases in India in touristic areas and routes travelled by religious pilgrims crossing mountains and rivers. 

Back in Japan, SkyDrive is currently exhibiting a 1/5 scaled SD-05 at the Japan Mobility Show at Suzuki’s booth. Formerly known as Tokyo Motor Show, the exhibition will be open until November 5.

SkyDrive was established in July 2018 after testing flying car concepts and prototypes from 2014. The company succeeded in the first crewed flight test in Japan in 2019, and its eVTOL is in the process of acquiring its Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) certification. SkyDrive aims to obtain airworthiness certification in 2025 to deploy the eVTOL at Expo 2025 in Osaka, followed by type certification in 2026 to begin mass production and delivery.

SkyDrive, headquartered in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is a developer and manufacturer of flying cars and cargo drones. In late summer 2022, the company opened a branch outside Japan for the first time – in the US. (production), (SBIR funding)


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