Does anyone remember “Supernal”? First announced in November 2021, it’s the name of Urban Air Mobility Company owned by the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG, parent company of the Kia Corp). Ever since HMG announced its air taxi, through a partnership with Uber at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, the automotive group has been shaking hands with other companies involved with aerospace, such as ANRA Technologies. Hyundai, Kia, and Uber have been working towards the their air taxi to be the first ones to have a real working personal aircraft in the emerging Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry. Almost a year later, and Supernal revealed its initial eVTOL vehicle cabin concept at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Working with more than 50 affiliates, spanning across various industries – automobiles, automotive parts, construction, robotics, and autonomous driving – Supernal took a look at automotives today and incorporated that into the design. Starting with a five-seat cabin concept while matching up with commercial aviation’s high safety standards but still optimizing the AAM passenger experience, as well as making it affordable for the consumers (most likely those with big pockets). A team of engineers and designers already working in the automotive industry were tasked with the design of the eVTOL to create a light-weight interior cabin that feels like the inside of a modern vehicle, but can take flight. Made of advanced, recyclable, forged carbon fiber, the cabin consists of reinforced thermoplastic, durable plant-based leather upholstery, recycled plastic fabric and responsibly sourced woods, and comes with ergonomically contoured seats to offer passengers a cocoon-like environment to feel safe in. Like vehicles today, the center consoles provide a charging station and storage for personal items, grab handles, and a combination of lighting features, such as overhead lights that mimic the sunroofs installed into automobiles, designed to emulate a “light therapy” effect for passengers that may be a little wary of a personal aircraft that currently looks like a helicopter without any rotors.
“In order for Advanced Air Mobility to become a wide-spread mode of transportation, every detail – from the passenger experience to regulations and infrastructure – needs to be addressed from the start and work in lockstep with one another…Leveraging Hyundai Motor Group’s mobility capabilities, Supernal is investing time and resources upfront to ensure the industry can scale to the masses in the coming decades and reach its exciting potential.” – Jaiwon Shin, President of Hyundai Motor Group and CEO of Supernal
The eVTOL is just the first of a series of electric air vehicles Supernal is designing for the modern family. By 2030, Supernal has plans to develop a hydrogen-powered mid-sized vehicle for regional – city-to-city – cargo and passenger journeys. In time, Supernal and HMG will create a robust high-rate, high-quality AAM manufacturing plant to produce electric air vehicles on a large scale. How they will be designed for use by the average driver is a large question yet to be answered. Initially, these aircrafts would be designed and produced with the intention of creating a new service, where licensed pilots would be behind the wheel. If these are being designed for modern families, is dad or mom going to get his or her pilot’s license? That’s a question for another day – right now, we want to see if the eVTOL can actually get off the ground. Want to see where Supernal takes the eVOTL concept? Follow along with us on Miami Lakes Kia social media and join the conversation.