German electric taxi company Volocopter has finalised a joint venture with Geely Technology Group, including an order for electric taxis for urban air mobility in China.
The joint venture between Volocopter and Geely’s Aerofugia unit, called Volocopter Chengdu, has signed an agreement to purchase 150 Volocopter electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Geely Holding Group CEO Daniel Li Donghui has also joined Volocopter’s advisory board as part of the agreement.
Volocopter Chengdu, finalized on September 22, 2021, aims to bring air taxis to China within the next three to five years.
“Today marks another important milestone on our journey to bring affordable electric air mobility to China, the biggest single market opportunity for the UAM industry,” Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said in a statement. “With the joint venture company up and running and Daniel Li Donghui as the new Geely representative on our Advisory Board, we are in pole position to introduce air taxi services globally in a safe, sustainable, and practical manner.”
The JV is based in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province and where Geely has a key manufacturing base.
Volocopter also announced on September 22, 2021, an agreement between the JV and Geely to produce Volocopter’s aircraft and parts in China. “This production agreement will strategically satisfy the fast-growing demand for air taxi services after commercial launch in China,” Volocopter explained in the statement.
Volocopter Chengdu chairman Jing Chao said the venture could now accelerate the development of urban air mobility (UAM): “UAM is an important part of the new aviation industry, which coincides with Aerofugia’s technical route and business plan of ‘new energy, vertical landing and take-off, and autonomous driving.’”
Plans for the joint venture were first announced in April 2021.
Volocopter performed its first crewed flight with its purely electric multicopter in 2011, and has since performed other flights, including an autonomous eVTOL flight in Dubai in 2017 and public test flights in Singapore in 2019. Along with the electric VoloCity air taxi, the German company is also developing the VoloDrone for heavy-lift cargo.