Honda confirms plans for hybrid eVTOL aircraft

By eVTOL | September 30, 2021

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 55 seconds.

Honda is officially joining the ranks of eVTOL developers, confirming plans for a hybrid-electric aircraft for longer-range, inter-city transportation.

The automaker unveiled its eVTOL concept on Sept. 30, along with details of an avatar robot and new space technologies. Images of the aircraft show a lift-plus-cruise design with eight lifting propellers on parallel booms and two ducted propellers in the rear. 

In a press release, Honda said the aircraft will feature a gas turbine hybrid power unit to enable transportation between cities, not just within them. The company contends that the only “realistic” use case for all-electric air taxis today is intra-city transportation, due to current battery limitations. 

As reported by TechCrunch, Honda’s market research suggests that the largest demand for eVTOL transportation will be for inter-city flights of up to 250 miles (400 kilometers), which will be difficult to achieve with lithium-ion battery technology anytime soon. Although Beta believes its fully electric Alia eVTOL will be able to hit that range, most air taxi developers are aiming well short of it. 

For example, Joby recently conducted an eVTOL flight of more than 150 miles (240 km), but the company expects that its average urban air mobility mission will be just 26 miles (42 km) — and it forecasts robust demand for such short hops. 

Honda eVTOL
An artist’s rendering of Honda’s eVTOL concept.

Honda said its eVTOL aircraft will incorporate technologies and capabilities that the company has developed across a range of industries. For example, it will draw on its experience with hybrid cars and electric vehicles for the aircraft’s generator/motor and battery, and from its autonomous driving technologies for sensors, controllers, and actuators. 

Meanwhile, Honda’s experience developing the HondaJet and its HF120 turbofan engine will inform its approach to turbine technology, aerodynamics, lightweight structure manufacturing, and aircraft certification. 

According to TechCrunch, the company is working toward flight tests of a hybrid demonstration model in 2025, after which it will make a decision on commercialization. Simultaneously, the company aims to establish a “mobility ecosystem” that is “coordinated and integrated with mobility on the ground,” with consideration for elements including infrastructure, customer reservations, and air traffic control.

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  1. Not an efficient design. Multiple small rotors are not as efficient as a single large rotor.

    1. It’s not being developed for helicopter use cases, it really just needs to be efficient enough. Do you really think Honda hasn’t done its home work?

  2. Will this development be done in Greensboro? Good to see some forward thinking coming from Honda.

  3. Honda is reliable Name just as Name Tata across the Industris in the world. We/readers should respect their aims and capabilities. Do you think before making announcement for confirmation plans for hybrid eVOTOL Aircrafts Honda hasn’t done its Homework? Honda not only done Homework but full pledged R&D over it.

    1. not only that, but safety record will be required for acceptance. probally needs to be 10x safer than alternative (driving) for acceptance and adoption.

      1. Safety and reliability is essential . However should an aircraft fail, carrying several or just a few people for that matter. Internet and all the news will blow it up. We’re like that.

  4. The current iteration of AAM vehicles are “Model-T ford” vehicles.
    They miss the mark on creating a new form of Transportation!
    Current AAM Vehicles…
    * use a primitive form of propulsion
    * not autonomous, using “swarm” drone flight control
    * don’t have VHD 10x battery systems
    * too large of a Form-Factor
    * too noisy and dangerous
    * too electrically inefficient
    * too limited in performance
    * too limited in passenger capacity
    * can not fully recharge in less than 1 minute

  5. This is nothing but Vapor Ware. Honda created this to get their name into the ring while they work on a real project.

  6. no wings for lift which is why 8 lifting propellers need to be running during entire flight. since they are not tilting, the cruise propellers need to take entire load of 2 massive booms incase of multiple vertical rotor failure. conventionally, fixed wing area is safer for lift rather than moving propellers. Also, considering weight of fuel tanks for hybrid version, gas turbines, fuel systems, not to mention additional battery weight, is still challenging to see how many Pax it can accommodate after all. Waiting eagerly to see the POC flight!

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