Maruti, the Indian subsidiary of the Japanese automaker Suzuki, is working with its mother company to create electric air copters, dubbed SkyDrive, which are smaller than a full-scale helicopter but bigger than a drone, as reported by Times of India, with a capacity to fly three passengers including the pilot.
SkyDrive has earlier announced in a joint statement with Suzuki, their signing of a partnership plan to build electric vertical take-off and landing (eVOTL) aircrafts, and according to Times of India, the new electric aircrafts are expected to first showcase in the upcoming 2025 Osaka Expo in Japan, packing 12 motor units and rotors.
During Bharat Mobility Global Expo, Kento Ogura, the assistant manager at Suzuki Motor, shed more light into the project, in an interview with Times of India, he explained potential applications for the aircrafts to be air taxis like Uber on the ground, adding that at the start, Japan and US are the targeted audience but the company is hoping to expand into India very soon, noting that market research is in process to look for potential customers and partners.
Ogura adds that Maruti, the biggest automotive maker in India, is planning for manufacturing to proceed into idea, noting that for the aircraft to have a viable market it needs to be less expensive than a helicopter, with the Times of India report noting that this step is part of Maruti’s strategy to lead the industry in both aerial and on-ground revolutionary transportation solutions.
According to Maruti, the switch to an electrical system reduced the parts needed in manufacturing ten times compared to helicopters, the SkyDrive weighs 1.4 tonnes, making it almost half the weight of a conventional helicopter, which would allow the utilization of building rooftops for take-off and landing operations.