This Suzuki-Backed Air Taxi Is Expanding Its International Customer Base

The SD-05 is an award-winning air taxi 8 photos
Photo: SkyDrive
SkyDrive is part of the select club of the few electric aircraft manufacturers worldwide, backed by big names in the automotive industry. With Suzuki as its main production partner, the Japanese eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) company has tremendous potential for reaching the top. An increasing number of orders seems to confirm it.
In the fall of 2022, SkyDrive officially introduced the SD-05. It was the commercial version of its flagship air taxi, scheduled to start operating in 2025.

After the first two prototypes, the Japanese manufacturer first made waves with the SD-03. The one-seater was dubbed the world's smallest eVTOL, with no more than four meters (13 feet) in length and width, paired with a two-meter (6.5 feet) height.

The SD-05 two-seater followed soon after. Performance-wise, it was still a short-range aircraft designed for quick trips of no more than 10 km (6 miles) at a cruising speed of 100 kph (62 mph). According to the Japanese company, it was specifically designed as an alternative to bigger and heavier air taxis on the global market.

In 2023, SkyDrive hit two major milestones with the SD-05. In May, it won a prestigious award. The International Forum (iF) Design Award competition officially named the SD-05 "The Most Accessible Flying Car."

Only a month later, SkyDrive signed an important agreement with Suzuki. The two announced plans to set up a 100% owned subsidiary for manufacturing eVTOLs and that the aircraft will be produced at the Suzuki-owned facility in Shizuoka Prefecture. The official launch date is the spring of 2024.

In the meantime, the Japanese manufacturer is also increasing its global customer base. A South Carolina-based charter aircraft company, a subsidiary of Lowcountry Aviation Company, became the first US operator to order the SD-05. It wasn't a large order (only five units), but it marked SkyDrive's debut on the American market.

A Vietnam-based operator recently doubled its order, reaching 200 SD-05 aircraft. This was part of a large-scale cooperation for implementing an AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) ecosystem across Vietnam.

Korea is the latest country to join SkyDrive's customer base. Solyu Company, an aircraft leasing company with a special focus on zero-emission alternatives, agreed to purchase up to 50 SD-05 eVTOLs. It's also the first leasing company to work with SkyDrive, and the two will cooperate on aspects that go beyond the aircraft itself, including infrastructure and future routes.

In case you were wondering, the Suzuki-backed SD-05 is also available for private customers, as long as they've got millions to spare. The first private customer to purchase this Japanese air taxi paid $1.5 million (JPY 200 million) for it earlier this year. It's no surprise, however, because Kotaro Chiba is more than a licensed pilot – he also happens to be the first owner of a HondaJet in Japan.
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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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