Honda released images of a prototype hybrid electric eVTOL aircraft in a Sept. 30 announcement. (Honda Motor Co.)
Honda Motor Co. has reveled new plans to develop a new electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, as part of a series of next generation technologies being researched and developed at the company's headquarters in Tokyo.
Details released by Honda in a Sept. 30 announcement are scarce, calling the aircraft the "Honda eVTOL" that is to be powered by a "gas turbine hybrid power unit," according to the company. Other new "outside-the-box" technologies being researched by Honda include an avatar robot, small reusable rockets and a partnership with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to build a "circulative renewable energy system on the lunar surface," according to the company.
The decision by Honda to develop a hybrid rather than full-electric eVTOL aircraft is driven by the company's desire to increase the range featured in its design, which Honda claims would be limited to "intra-city (inside city) transportation" due to the limitations of all-electric aircraft.
"However, all-electric eVTOL aircraft face a range issue due to limited battery capacity, therefore the realistic use area is limited to intra-city (inside city) transportation," Honda notes in their Sept. 30 announcement. "To address this issue and realize user-friendly inter-city transportation with longer range, Honda will leverage its electrification technologies and develop Honda eVTOL equipped with a gas turbine hybrid power unit."
Honda's prototype eVTOL undergoing wind tunnel testing. (Honda)
Beyond the aircraft itself, Honda wants to develop an associated reservation service system, as well as maintenance and air traffic control services as part of a broader mobility ecosystem.
A video accompanying the Honda eVTOL announcement gives an overview of a multimodal smartphone app-based service that connects passengers to a car-to-eVTOL port service.