Honda has provided the world with a great deal of value through a number of mobility products. Now, we are working to create eVTOL, electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, which fly on a new layer of the sky that is much closer to the ground than the existing layer used by airplanes. Moreover, we are striving to establish a large mobility ecosystem centered around Honda eVTOL, which will enable more seamless mobility by connecting various three-dimensional layers of mobility.
We do all of this to serve more customers with the joy of expanding their lifestyle choices.
Striving for greater freedom of mobility, we are developing eVTOL to realize a three-dimensional mobility that connects the ground and the sky and makes significant changes to the concept of mobility.
Honda offers a variety of mobility products to its customers, including ground-based products such as cars and motorcycles, mobility in the skies that we realized first with HondaJet and mobility in the ocean as well. We believe that we can provide a greater value to mobility by connecting all of our mobility products. Moreover, instead of a two-dimensional mobility service, we can offer a three-dimensional service that combines the ground layer and the air layer of mobility, which will enable people to significantly reduce travel time and enjoy pleasant mobility experiences. We envision a future where people can live wherever they want to live without being bound by their work locations and enjoy their lives with more freedom.
HondaJet is one of the means for connecting mobility on the ground and in the skies, but we want to make mobility in the skies more accessible. To achieve this, we thought of using a layer that is closer to the ground than the layer HondaJet flies, and we decided to focus on eVTOL as a more casual form of mobility in the air that can be used not only for business purposes, but also for commuting to work or school.
eVTOL stands for electric vertical take-off and landing. It takes-off and lands vertically like a helicopter, eliminating the need for runways and other large facilities. Moreover, it is electrified, making it possible to offer quieter and cleaner transportation. Furthermore, Honda aims to provide a comfortable and pleasant “space” for mobility by leveraging its technologies amassed through the experience of designing the cabin space of automobiles.
Centering around its new mobility product in the skies, namely eVTOL, Honda aims to build a mobility ecosystem that greatly expands the freedom of mobility for people by providing services that link mobility in the skies with all types of ground-based mobility products and services, not only Honda products but also public transportation systems. By integrating various elements such as reservation systems, infrastructure, flight operation and air traffic control systems, and various types of mobility products, the system will become capable of offering a variety of recommendations such as the shortest route achieved through the seamless links among various mobility products/services on the ground and in the skies.
Honda will pursue this vision while working in collaboration with a number of companies and related organizations that share Honda's vision for the future mobility ecosystem.
The eVTOL, which makes air transportation easier and more casual, is expected to be used for a variety of purposes in addition to transporting people. For example, the use of eVTOL can be expanded into the area of logistics and emergency transportation. Leveraging packaging technologies for our minivans and other automobile products, we are designing the cabin space of Honda eVTOL by incorporating various features that enable passengers to enjoy their time on board and also while giving consideration to the versatility of our eVTOL.
Including know-how amassed through the development of HondaJet and hybrid technologies refined with mass-production models and racing activities, we infuse what Honda has built up over time into our eVTOL.
In designing the eVTOL, safety has been the first and foremost priority. A tiltrotor, an aircraft that changes the angle of its rotors to generate both lift and thrust, has an advantage in terms of fuel efficiency. However, in case of a malfunction, the integration of the lift/thrust functions may lead to multiple critical function losses and make it difficult to secure flight safety. To address this safety concern, Honda eVTOL is equipped with eight rotors for vertical take-off and landing and two rotors for propulsion, ensuring a high degree of redundancy by distributing functions. In fact, Honda eVTOL is as safe as airplanes operated by airlines.
The multi-rotor configuration not only ensures safety but also enables smaller rotor diameters, resulting in an overwhelming level of quiet operation compared to helicopters. In addition to ensuring passenger comfort, the quietness of eVTOL will minimize the impact on the surrounding environment during take-off, landing and in-flight.
One of the key features of Honda eVTOL not found in any other eVTOL is the gas turbine hybrid power unit, which greatly extends the range. All-electric eVTOL, which fly solely on energy stored in the battery, have a range of around 100 km (approx. 62 miles) and are intended for intra-city transportation, an alternative for taxi use. On the other hand, Honda eVTOL equipped with a hybrid power unit has a range of 400 km (approx. 250 miles), which covers even inter-city (city-to-city) transportation. Honda eVTOL will demonstrate a high level of user-friendliness at the core of the mobility ecosystem Honda is envisioning for the future.
Honda is the only company in the world that has obtained U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for both the airframe and the aircraft engine, conducting HondaJet business. Our know-how in the FAA certification process will enable us to increase the efficiency of eVTOL development and speed up the delivery of Honda eVTOL to our customers. Moreover, Honda will make a great use of its expertise in lightweight structures and production technologies unique only to aircraft.
F1™ technologies, both tangible and intangible, have also been incorporated into the development of Honda eVTOL, including F1™ power unit technology applied for the ultra-high rpm generator, as well as the simulation analysis technology and facilities for aerodynamic development. Racing chassis technologies are also applied to Honda eVTOL as there are many similarities in aerodynamic phenomena because the speed range and airflow turbulence eVTOL needs to manage are closer to those of F1™ machines than of passenger airplanes.
Moreover, Honda also has time-proven hybrid technologies as well as safety technologies such as Honda SENSING technologies. Participation of Honda engineers with experience in various areas including HondaJet, F1™, hybrid vehicles and safety and driver-assistive technologies, is enabling the project team to pursue the development of eVTOL unique only to Honda.
■All measurements included in this story were measured internally by Honda.
eVTOL has not yet been put into practical use. While there is no market for it yet, we need to think what the market is demanding. Because eVTOL will be a mobility product that differs from both an airplane and helicopter, and because it is still at the stage where laws and regulations for eVTOL have not yet been established, we are pursuing development while being conscious about the safety and competitiveness of our eVTOL and while repeating trial and error on a daily basis.
We are confident that Honda eVTOL, which utilizes the core technologies of Honda and features unique technologies, ideas and designs, will become a mobility product that expands the value of mobility for people and makes our society a better place.