SkyDrive Air Taxi Production Officially Launched at the Suzuki Facility in Japan

SkyDrive started manufacturing the SD-05 at the Suzuki plant in Iwata City 8 photos
Photo: SkyDrive
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The beginning of March 2024 marks one of the most important milestones for the Japanese eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) maker SkyDrive. The company finally kicked off commercial production of its flagship aircraft, the SD-05, and not alone, but with the priceless support from automotive giant Suzuki.
Are traditional automotive players slowly tapping into the potential of the young eVTOL industry? It's still too soon to call it a trend. Still, some of the biggest car makers are eyeing electric flying machines and supporting developers in this new market with their production know-how and material resources.

In the US, we have a collaboration between Stellantis and Archer Aviation, the startup that's producing the Midnight eVTOL. Toyota is the largest external shareholder of another California-based eVTOL company, Joby Aviation. In Japan, Suzuki and SkyDrive are working together to launch one of the most highly-anticipated air taxis in the global market.

This partnership reached a peak earlier this week with the official production launch of the SkyDrive SD-O5 aircraft. The eVTOL will be manufactured at the Suzuki production facility in Iwata City, Shizuoka. Most startups in this young industry are still building or renovating their own facilities in order to kick off large-scale production. Having the benefit of an existing high-standard facility, and not just any facility but one that's operated by an automotive giant, is obviously a huge advantage.

Still, compared to the bold plans of US eVTOL makers such as Joby and Archer, which aim to roll out at least 500 units per year, SkyDrive is gearing up for a significantly smaller production capacity. After the official launch, the Japanese company announced its plan to build up to 100 units per year at the Suzuki plant.

This milestone comes after an auspicious start of the year, when the Japanese air taxi developer announced big expansion plans for the Indian market. A smaller prototype of the SD-05 was on display at the Gujarat Global Summit 2024 as part of the Maruti-Suzuki India Limited booth. Prior to that, SkyDrive had also secured a significant financial boost from the Japanese government through the Small and Medium Enterprise Innovation Promotion Project (SBIR) initiative.

The SD-05 is a three-seat electric aircraft (the pilot plus two passengers) boasting a 12-rotor configuration. As a compact and lightweight air vehicle, it targets short-distance, zero-emission flights of no more than 15 km (9 miles) at a top speed of 100 kph (62 mph). The SkyDrive concept also received the prestigious International Forum (iF) Design Award for "the most accessible flying car."

The highly-anticipated World Expo 2025 event, taking place in Osaka, Japan, is where SkyDrive intends to operate its flagship aircraft for the first time in a public setting.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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