After years of  talk about air-taxis being a viable option for urban commuters, the CEO of Supernal, an advanced air mobility (AAM) company owned by [hotlink]Hyundai Motor[/hotlink] Group, has a date when we may start seeing electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, or eVTOLs, in the skies: 2028.

Speaking to Fortune at the Singapore Airshow, Jaiwon Shin said he thinks 2028 is a realistic target as there will be “regulatory readiness”, infrastructure, and public acceptance. Like many in the AAM sector, Shin believes the commercial use of eVTOLs would be “another revolution in aviation”. Shin cited several reasons including how these air-taxis can provide integrated mobility to ease traffic in metropolitan areas.

The company unveiled its S-A2 eVTOL product concept at CES 2024 in Las Vegas. The aircraft is a pilot-plus-four passenger vehicle and is designed to cruise 120 mph at a 1,500-foot altitude to meet typical city operation needs of 25-to-40 mile trips, according to a press release from the company.

Shin said he sees U.S. cities as a natural place to enter first due to its market size, but he also sees a potential in APAC markets such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. He added that Supernal would eventually want to enter South Korea as the company is backed by Hyundai Motor Group.

Hurdles ahead

But there are some hurdles to overcome to get these eVTOLs flying commercially, not least the battery technology powering the aircraft, which Shin said is “not quite there yet”. 

Shin did not reveal how many 40-mile city trips a fully-charged Supernal eVTOL could make, but said that if Supernal had to enter the market next year with the lithium-ion batteries that ground vehicle OEMs are using then, he’d imagine eVTOLs would have to charge frequently.

Batteries aside, aspiring air taxi companies also have to face evolving government regulation. Shin said Supernal is involved in heavy testing as it tries to get the necessary certifications. He added the company is working with the Federal Aviation Authority in the U.S. and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency. Supernal also established a strategic partnership with Singapore’s civil aviation authority on Tuesday. 

Hyundai partnership

The price for a ride in Supernal’s eVTOLs still has to be nailed down, though Shin says they have to appeal to the public not from a price point perspective but from one of safety. But looking ahead, Shin sees a cost advantage to being backed by Hyundai. Shin highlighted the automaker’s manufacturing expertise and says that could help address capacity needs when the eVTOL sector eventually scales up. 

Asked when he himself would take a ride in a Supernal eVTOL, Shin gave a timeline of somewhere between 2026 and 2028.

Fortune is hosting the inaugural Fortune Innovation Forum in Hong Kong on March 27–28. Experts, investors, and leaders of the world’s largest companies will come together to discuss “New Strategies for Growth,” or how companies can best seize opportunities in a fast-changing world.


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