CES 2021

Archer Aviation, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles agree to begin manufacturing eVOTL aircraft

Archer Aviation wants to become the first all-electric airline.

Photo courtesy of Archer Aviation

CES is all about the technology of the future. The future of transportation may be all-electric airships. Archer Aviation, a Silicon Valley startup is partnering with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for the manufacturing and production of its composite, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Production is set to kick off in 2023.

As part of the deal, Archer will benefit from FCA's positioning in the supply chain, advanced composite material capabilities, and design experience. The agreement accelerates Archer's timeline in development of the aircraft, which is set to be part of a fleet that makes the world's first all-electric airline.

Delta shouldn't be worried, however. The 100-percent electric aircrafts Archer will produce are designed to travel 60 miles at just 150 mph. Think of it as light rail for the sky.

"We've been hyper-focused on a customer-first approach to vehicle design and aircraft operations," said Brett Adcock, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer. "Now we are working with a seasoned, industry-leading automotive partner to leverage cost benefits and experience that will allow Archer to produce thousands of aircraft reliably and affordably every single year."

The first eVOTL aircraft from Archer will be publicly shown in early 2021. It will include cockpit design elements from FCA.

"Electrification within the transportation sector whether on roads or in the air is the future and with any new and rapidly developing technology, scale is important," said Doug Ostermann, vice president and head of global business development of FCA. "Our partnership with Archer has mutual benefits and will enable innovative, environmentally friendly transportation solutions to be brought to market at an accelerated pace.

"We are excited to team up with one of the world's largest automotive companies on our mission of advancing the benefits of sustainable air mobility," said Adam Goldstein, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer. "This is a first-of-its-kind deal for one of Detroit's Big Three automakers in moving into the urban air mobility space. There is now a clear path for Archer to bring mass production to this industry, changing the way people travel in and around cities forever."

Late last year, Lilium laid out plans to put an eVOTL-only airport in Orlando, Florida. At last year's CES Hyundai and Uber showcased the potential of an air taxi partnership.

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The commercial van is going all-electric in 2023

Stellantis

Many automakers have publicly committed to making the shift to fully electrified vehicle lineups with the decade, but until recently, Stellantis was an outlier. The global auto giant, whose brands include Jeep, Ram, Dodge, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, and more, will follow suit, but has been less aggressive with its stated goals. However, the automaker is already making good on its promises, and one of the first vehicles to come will be an electrified version of the Ram ProMaster van in 2023.


Ram ProMaster The electric ProMaster will compete with the Ford E-Transit.Stellantis


The automaker will follow its ProMaster commercial van with an electric version of the Ram 1500 pickup truck in 2024. When the truck eventually lands, it will face off against the Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and GMC Hummer EV – a massively crowded field of vehicles, considering none are on sale today.


Ram ProMaster EVs make tons of sense for fleets, where fuel expenses can be steep.Stellantis


We don't have any specs on the new van yet, but its main competition will come from the Ford E-Transit electric van, which just began testing in fleets this week. Ford sent 10 pre-production vans to municipal and other fleets across the UK and a couple of other European countries. The E-Transit is estimated to deliver a range of about 126 miles and to offer a payload capacity of up to 4,290 pounds.


Ram ProMaster The ProMaster is just one of several electrified vehicles that Stellantis will release in the coming years.Ram


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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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