· Urban-Air Port and Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group announce plans to develop 65 electric urban-air ports worldwide to make clean urban air travel a reality.
· World’s first electric urban-air port – ‘Air-One’ – to open in Coventry, UK, in early 2022 – the first of more than 200 sites being developed by Urban-Air Port in the next five years to meet global demand.
· Deal represents major vote of confidence in the UK as one of the world’s fastest growing clean tech centres.
UK start-up Urban-Air Port has announced plans with the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group to develop 65 electric urban-air ports worldwide to meet the growing demand for autonomous airborne drones and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger vehicles. The partnership aims to establish a global network of urban-air ports and provide the essential infrastructure to unlock clean urban air mobility worldwide. The partnership forms a key part of Urban-Air Port’s plan to build 200 sites globally in the next five years.
Investment in the urban air mobility industry has exploded this year, with $4.7 billion USD announced for the development of eVTOL vehicles.[i] Companies including Joby Aviation[ii], Archer Aviation, Lilium and Vertical Aerospace have all announced SPAC (Special-Purpose Acquisition Company) investments to bring eVTOLs to market within the decade and the industry is forecast to hit $1 trillion USD in the next 20 years.[iii]
However, the lack of infrastructure to support these vehicles is a major block on market growth, with experts at NASA saying infrastructure constraints will create a significant barrier to urban air mobility in the near term[iv]. Despite this, only 3% of the investment so far this year ($150m USD) is in the physical infrastructure.[v]
Urban-Air Port is the only company solely focused on deploying the infrastructure-technology essential for eVTOLs and delivery drones to operate. It plans to plug the infrastructure gap with more than 200 electric air mobility hubs worldwide in the next five years to meet expected global demand. The world’s first fully operational urban-air port – named Air-One – will be unveiled early next year in Coventry, UK.
Ricky Sandhu, Founder and Executive Chairman of Urban-Air Port®, said: “The sector is soaring and we know that a future with electric flying vehicles and drones in cities is going to be a reality soon. But it can’t happen if we don’t have the infrastructure on the ground and in the air to make it happen. Urban-Air Port will change the way we travel forever – unlocking clean urban air transport for everyone, improving connectivity in congested cities, cutting pollution and boosting productivity.”
Urban-Air Port’s modular hubs are specifically designed for compact environments, supporting any eVTOL or drone vehicle, and with maintenance and charging able to take place on-site. The ultra-compact off-grid design enables urban-air ports to be located in dense urban areas and remote locations and can be easily moved to alternative sites, as the air-mobility sector develops. This design also means the sites are ideal for disaster emergency management, such as natural disasters. Urban-air ports can rapidly deploy drones and other eVTOL vehicles to collect and transport emergency supplies, equipment and people where needed. To support this future, Urban-Air Port today also announces a partnership with world leading Hydrogen Fuel Cell pioneer, AFC Energy PLC, to provide zero emission off-grid power for future sites. The system will be deployed at Urban-Air Port’s Air One site in Coventry.
Uniquely, Urban-Air Port is designed as an integrated hub for all sustainable transport, including drones, eVTOLs, electric vehicles (EVs), buses or scooters, ensuring an integrated approach to the decarbonisation of cities. Cargo and passengers can be safely and quickly loaded and unloaded, integrating seamlessly with onward transport. At the same time, EVs, buses and scooters can access on-site charging. Urban-Air Port is also developing a digital app-based platform to enable seamless door-to-door travel.
Hyundai Motor Group will work with Urban-Air Port to develop 65 sites in key locations across the US, UK, EU and Asia Pacific. The partnership represents a statement of confidence in the ability of the UK-based company to unlock the global market before 2030 and is an integral part of Hyundai Motor Group’s vision to provide smart mobility solutions for the changing world. The Group is developing its own eVTOL vehicle, in tandem with helping create the supporting ecosystem, and plans to enter service in 2028.
Pamela Cohn, Chief Operating Officer and U.S. General Manager for the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group, said: “Urban Air Mobility will be integral to how we get from A to B this century. Hyundai Motor Group has a bold vision for future mobility and is committed to making the human and technological investments needed to usher in a new era of transport. Urban-Air Port is key to opening up safe, affordable, zero-emission mobility, which will take urban air mobility from science fiction to tangible reality.”
Ricky Sandhu added: “The deal with the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group is a massive step towards our vision of installing hundreds of urban-air ports worldwide to maintain our position at the forefront of this sector and support the rapid expansion of urban air mobility in this decade.”
Urban-Air Port is also supported by the UK government via the Future Flight Challenge to develop aviation infrastructure and systems that enable the next generation of electric and autonomous air vehicles.
Minister for Aerospace, Paul Scully, said: “The government-backed Urban-Air Port heralds a new, convenient and sustainable way to travel within the UK, improving connectivity between cities, whilst helping us to build back greener.
“The UK is at the cutting-edge of new technologies in the pursuit of a net zero economy by 2050. Making sure that the infrastructure exists for these new modes of transport is key to making zero emission urban flight an everyday reality.”
Gary Cutts, Future Flight Challenge Director at UKRI, said: “Urban-Air Port will revolutionise cities across the world, making them more connected, cleaner and accelerating our green economic recovery. This deal, with one of the world’s largest mobility companies, is a testament to what the Future Flight Challenge fund is all about – supporting world-leading innovation to grow globally and position the UK at the forefront of the green air mobility revolution.”
Urban-Air Port is also in discussions with multiple potential partners and investors, as part of its Series A funding round, closing Q4 this year, to support its rapid commercialisation and global growth.
About Air-One, Coventry
Urban-Air Port’s Air-One site – its world-first fully-operational hub for eVTOL aircraft – will be unveiled in Coventry City Centre in early 2022 to showcase how sustainable urban air mobility can reduce congestion, cut air pollution and decarbonise transport while providing seamless passenger journeys and deliveries.
Urban-Air Port chose Coventry for the first site due to its important location in the heart of the UK and because it is a historic hub for the automobile and aerospace industry, with a pool of people and skills that can support the R&D and advanced manufacturing industries of the future. The city’s location also provides easy access nationwide, with 90% of the UK population within four hours travel time. Urban-Air Port is working with Coventry City Council and Coventry University to produce Air-One. Air-One will be unveiled during Coventry’s UK city of culture celebrations in 2021 and continue to form part of the Commonwealth Games in 2022.2
As part of Air One, AFC Energy PLC will be providing an operating Hydrogen Fuel Cell, enabling clean power generation and charging on-site.
This combination of technology solves the problem of affordable, green, off-grid power; enabling advanced air mobility access from more sites, reducing travel times of goods and services, spreading social equity and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Urban-Air Port and AFC are also looking to expand their partnership to support a wider integration of sustainable power systems within the Urban-Air Port hub ecosystem.
About Urban-Air Port Limited
Urban-Air Port Limited designs, develops and operates innovative ground infrastructure for use by new forms of sustainable urban air transport and mobility solutions.
About Hyundai Motor Group
Hyundai Motor Group is a global enterprise that has created a value chain based on mobility, steel, and construction, as well as logistics, finance, IT, and service. With about 250,000 employees worldwide, the Group’s mobility brands include Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis. Armed with creative thinking, cooperative communication and the will to take on any challenges, we strive to create a better future for all.
More information about Hyundai Motor Group, please see: www.hyundaimotorgroup.com
[ii] Joby Aviation closed its business combination with Reinvent Technology Partners on 10th August 2021, valuing the company at $4.5 billion USD