Japanese automotive group Honda has thrown its hat into the advanced air mobility ring, confirming plans to bring an eVTOL aircraft to market. While acknowledging that it faces competition from numerous start-ups and carmaking rivals Hyundai, Toyota and China's Geely group, the company said its vehicle will differentiate itself with the use of a gas turbine hybrid power unit that will provide a longer range supporting intercity transportation of up to 249 miles.
According to Honda, its eVTOL will provide a level of safety equivalent to that of commercial passenger airplanes due to a simple structure and a decentralized propulsive system. It further anticipates a quieter aircraft through the use of small-diameter rotors.
While Honda did not provide details of its new aircraft in its September 30 announcement, depictions show eight small propellers distributed on two booms and two ducted propellers in the rear. A companion video shows a 249-mile range using hybrid electric and 62-mile all-electric range.
Honda plans to leverage its expertise in areas such as combustion, aerodynamics, and control technologies as well as its backgrounds in electrical, hybrid power, certification, and autonomy that it has developed through its various businesses, the company said.
Along with the eVTOL and a hybrid power unit, the company outlined a vision for a transportation ecosystem that would involve the use of strategically stationed “Honda Mobility Hubs” to serve as base locations connecting various cities. That ecosystem could involve electric and autonomous ground transportation as well, Honda suggests.
This new “technology development direction” is part of Honda’s “2030 Vision of serving people worldwide with the ‘joy of expanding their life’s potential,’” the company said, adding it “is thoroughly committed to contributing to the realization of a society with zero environmental impact and zero traffic collisions, and also to new initiatives that enable Honda to take on challenges in new areas.”
Honda's development goals further include an avatar robot that can “expand the range of human ability and a new challenge in the field of outer space,” the company also announced.