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### Breaking News: Hyundai Supernal Poised for eVTOL Debut Amid Fierce Air Mobility Race SEOUL — Hyundai Motor Group’s Advanced Air Mobility division, Supernal, is set to unveil a full-scale aircraft demonstration by the end of 2024, positioning the automaker as a




Hyundai Supernal to showcase air mobility aircraft this year

Jaiwon Shin, head of Hyundai's Advanced Air Mobility unit, believes the company has significant advantages to compete in the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) industry.

SEOUL — While the competition among electric vehicle manufacturers is intense on land, the race is also heating up in the burgeoning advanced air mobility sector.

According to certain calculations, over 250 businesses around the globe are competing for a place.

A few already possess functional prototypes. Several are major players in the aerospace sector with extensive aviation backgrounds. A number are relatively obscure entities. Others are newcomers hailing from different industries.

Hyundai Motor Group, being South Korea's biggest car manufacturer, is a newcomer in the aviation sector. They lack experience in building aircraft and have not yet created a functional prototype.

Even though Hyundai is entering the market later than others, it has many advantages that could make it competitive, according to Jaiwon Shin, who leads the group's Advanced Air Mobility division.

During a briefing held at the division's headquarters on June 26, Shin provided further information about the implementation plan, which will be led by the group's air mobility division, Supernal.

Supernal has its main office in Washington, D.C., while its research and development, along with engineering centers, are located in California. This is due in part to Hyundai's anticipation that the United States will become the leading market globally for the emerging, low-altitude, battery-operated air taxis capable of vertical takeoff and landing, which are currently attracting significant attention.

Supernal plans to introduce its eight-rotor aircraft to the market around 2028 or 2029, with the United States being their primary target.

However, Shin admits that there is still a lengthy list of tasks to complete in order to reach that point.

By late 2024, Supernal aims to launch its inaugural full-sized demo vehicle.

This schedule allows Supernal to construct and test a prototype by late 2026.

Between 2027 and 2028, the company intends to construct a fleet of 10 aircraft aimed at achieving flight and production certification. The objective is to secure approval from the Federal Aviation Administration during that period.

Shin remains calm despite Hyundai's gradual progress as competitors move quickly. At a time when concerns about quality affect major aviation companies like Boeing, Hyundai prioritizes flawless safety. Additionally, the company aims to align its launch with future advancements in battery technology.

Shin remarked that this market is poised to soar, and the wordplay is intentional.

"We refuse to sacrifice safety just to be the first to market," he stated. "Our belief is that it's not about being first, but about launching at the most opportune moment."

Supernal's prototype designs will be derived from the S-A2 full-scale model that was presented in January at the CES event in Las Vegas. The aircraft is designed to carry four passengers along with one pilot, and it aims to have a maximum range of 60 miles. However, the majority of its flights are expected to cover distances between 25 and 40 miles. The vehicle will feature eight rotors powered by batteries, enabling it to cruise at speeds of 120 mph.

Shin explains that there are multiple reasons why the support of Hyundai Motor Group is crucial.

To begin with, the enormous corporation offers substantial financial resources and advanced technology.

According to Bloomberg News, within the initial two years following the establishment of Supernal in 2021, the organization invested approximately 1.2 trillion won ($920 million) into the venture.

The car manufacturer possesses a range of automated driving technologies and extensive safety expertise that can be utilized for airborne vehicles. This is essential to achieve a safety performance comparable to that of commercial aviation, which, according to Hyundai, experiences just 0.2 fatal accidents per 1 million flights.

In the field of commercial aviation, there are currently between 20,000 and 30,000 airplanes operating globally. However, Hyundai expects there will be a need for millions of battery-powered short-range air vehicles.

This indicates that the method of mass production is essential. Boeing produces several jets each month. In the same period, Hyundai Motor Group produces over 500,000 advanced, high-quality cars, all adhering to strict safety regulations.

"Who else can produce such large quantities reliably and safely?" Shin remarked. "We have the extensive industrial strength and mass-production capabilities of Hyundai Motor Group."

Hyundai is not the only car manufacturer making a foray into the aviation industry.

Automotive giants Toyota Motor Corp., Stellantis, and Mercedes-Benz Group have put money into air mobility startups, and these ventures, along with the emerging industry, are close to becoming operational. Additional notable startups in this field include Japan's SkyDrive, U.S.-based Joby Aviation, Germany's Volocopter, and the U.K.'s Vertical Aerospace.

Even though Hyundai has numerous advantages, Shin hesitates to provide a specific timeframe for when the air mobility market will truly take off. Similar to the situation with self-driving cars and electric vehicles, the widespread acceptance of this technology will depend on various elements that are outside the influence of automakers or aircraft manufacturers.

There are still problems that need to be addressed.

The network of landing pads, also known as vertiports, is nearly non-existent. Similarly, there is a lack of a charging infrastructure essential for the large batteries of these aircraft. At the same time, policymakers are only starting to consider the necessary safety, zoning, and noise regulations to manage the new low-altitude flight paths that will likely intersect densely populated urban regions.

Technological advancements will be necessary as well. According to Shin, the current batteries are only just sufficient for the initial phase of all-electric aviation, which operates over short distances. For the subsequent phase involving aircraft with extended range, hydrogen fuel cell propulsion systems will probably need to be implemented.

"Simply concentrating on vehicle development won't unlock this market," he stated. "We need to integrate all these elements to ensure the safety of these vehicles."

"It's definitely not feasible to implement this everywhere simultaneously."


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