IIT professor’s ePlane Company aims to ferry Indians in flying air taxi in 2023
As urban mobility giants like Boeing, Hyundai, Airbus, Toyota, Uber and Joby Aviation plan to soon ferry passengers in air taxis, the homegrown ePlane Company is all set to to build India’s first flying electric taxi to make passenger commute and cargo transport up to 10 times faster, its founder and CTO Satya Chakravarthy said in July
NEW DELHI: As urban mobility giants like Boeing, Hyundai, Airbus, Toyota, Uber and Joby Aviation plan to soon ferry passengers in air taxis, the homegrown ePlane Company is all set to build India’s first flying electric taxi to make passenger commute and cargo transport up to 10 times faster, its founder and CTO Satya Chakravarthy said in July. The startup is in the final stages of building a sub-scale version of the flying aircraft and expects to commence its flight trials in the next couple of months. “We are developing the full-scale prototype, the ePlane e200, and aim to have the e200 cargo variant built towards the end of 2022 and undergo the certification process through the next year for it to be ready for commercial deployment approximately by late 2023,” Chakravarthy told IANS. The passenger version of the ePlane e200 would undergo additional development and flight tests for a more rigorous certification process, “which would take us until 2024 for its certification and their commercialization as air taxis will happen subsequently,” he noted.
The market for flying cars, now known as electric air taxis, can reach $1.5 trillion globally by 2040, according to a recent study by Morgan Stanley Research. Earlier this year, the ePlane company that aims to develop electric planes for short-range intra-city commutes, raised $5 million in a pre-series A round. “As with everything in life, ups and downs are a part of the process. Fortunately, we have been able to pique interest in potential consumers and investors and continue to do so. The funding we raised has been crucial in developing the prototypes, performing tests and attracting the right talent along with building awareness,” said Chakravarthy, an IIT-Madras professor.
According to him, they are striving to offer on-demand, door-to-door flying at affordable pricing and aim to make flying the new ubiquitous mode of transport. “One of our key differentiating factors is that we’re focused on making the ePlane (e200) one of most compact eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing) in the world that would cater to the mid-mile and last mile urban air mobility market segments, thereby alleviating traffic congestion in cities,” he emphasized. The technological challenges of developing a product that is safe, reliable and efficient is something “we are addressing with innovation in all the key areas”. “The pandemic and its subsequent effects including the global supply chain slowdown were also deterring factors but things are looking up in that regard now,” he told IANS.