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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 delivers new safety and driver assistance tech to the company's 2021 model lineup.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made public a list of proposed upgrades to the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). NCAP testing addresses the crashworthiness of a vehicle as well as the vehicle's headlight functionality. These new proposed measures go even further, putting driver assistance and safety technology to the test.

Automakers often strive to achieve the highest score possible in NCAP testing, wearing their five-start safety ratings and Top Pick designations as badges of honor in marketing campaigns.

"Thanks in part to NCAP, new vehicles today are much safer than a generation ago," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens. "Even so, there are still too many fatalities and serious injuries in crashes every year, so it is critical that vehicles keep getting safer in the future, and a modernized NCAP will better enable American families to select vehicles with the safety features they want."

The immediate planned update to NCAP testing includes four advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS): lane keeping support, pedestrian automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and blind spot intervention. Engineers have designed these four specific technologies to mitigate high-frequency and high-risk crash types.

NHTSA is currently seeking public input on how best to develop a rating system for ADAS technologies.

"These upgrades will make NCAP more dynamic," Deputy Administrator Owens said. "American car buyers want safety, and NHTSA wants to empower them with comparative safety information about vehicles in the market. This information creates powerful market-based incentives for automakers to invest in advanced safety technologies that will save lives and prevent injuries."

The NHTSA began testing vehicles in 1978. The first tests examined frontal impact protection and used data from crash test dummies. The five-star safety rating system was established in 1993 and have been steadily increasing the scope of the testing over the last two decades.

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The Bugatti Chiron Sport "Les Légendes du Ciel" edition pays homage to vintage aircraft.

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

In the aftermath of World War I, company founder Ettore Bugatti showcased the first three vehicles made by the company that bore his name. They were race cars and Bugatti found itself at the pinnacle of the sport very quickly.

By 1930, the company would begin its relationship with the aerospace industry, first with the Bugatti 100P, which never actually flew due to World War II, but served as the inspiration for a number of patents that are filed by the company. The plane went into storage as the Second World War kicked off and Mr. Bugatti would never again work on it during his lifetime.

Bugatti Chiron Sport "Les Légendes du Ciel" edition

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

Bugatti is honoring its racing and aviation past with a new series of Chiron Sport models dubbed "Les Légendes du Ciel". The drivers who piloted the Bugattis to success in the early 1900s were often time multitalented with resumes declaring them flying aces, daredevils, and technically skilled pilots.

"Bugatti has had close associations with aviation since the company was established more than 110 years ago. Many successful Bugatti racing drivers, such as Albert Divo, Robert Benoist and Bartolomeo 'Meo' Costantini, flew for the French Air Force, the French aviator legend Roland Garros privately drove a Bugatti Type 18 to be as fast on the road as in the air," says Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti. "It is therefore almost an obligation for us today to pay tribute to the legends of that time and dedicate a special edition to them."

Each of the new models features a special, matte gray "Gris Serpent" paint job, which is inspired by the exterior color of aircrafts from the 1920s. The color extends front to rear with high-contrast, which gloss stripe running up the center. The front wings are adorned with the "Les Légendes du Ciel" logo. The "Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge" tricolor decorates the front area of the side sills made of exposed black carbon fiber.

At the front is Bugatti's traditional horseshoe radiator grille, finished in gloss black. The grille mesh is made of laser-cut and deep-drawn aluminum, and constructed in a dynamic pattern that that is repeated on the car's leather seats. Entry lights project the edition logo on the ground at entry while "Les Légendes du Ciel" logo on the middle console inlays.

Bugatti has covered the engine with black exposed carbon fiber with contrasting white lettering. The material continues at the back where black exposed carbon fibre and a black-coated exhaust trim cover made of 3D printed, high-temperature-resistant Inconel dominate.

The car's interior is almost entirely upholstered in leather. The leather's light brown color was chosen to be reminiscent of the natural leather in early aircrafts. On the door panels there is a hand-sketched racing scene between the Nieuport 17 aircraft and a Bugatti Type 13.

The new Bugatti Chiron Sport "Les Légendes du Ciel" edition is limited to 20 vehicles. Every model is independently numbered and costs $3.5 million.

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