London-based developer of the VX4 electric takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) Vertical Aerospace has signed on E-One Moli Energy Corp. to design and supply the ion-lithium batteries that will power its future air taxis.
Vertical revealed the link-up with E-One Moli Energy – Molicel for short – in what it called a major step in developing its eVTOL VX4 toward certification, production, and air taxi services it aims to launch in 2025. After consulting with what it called “dozens of cell manufacturers,” Vertical selected Taiwan-based Molicel as an established and continually innovating player in battery production, with clients including NASA and William’s Advanced Engineering.
Molicel will design and manufacture batteries for Vertical with a focus on deft management of thermal runaway events – a key safety detail within certification criteria – as well as cell life and re-use after they’ve become obsolete for powering aircraft. Vertical also chose Molicel for its plans to open a second Gigafactor, which will more than double its current 1.6Gwh annual capacity, in order to meet demand from future eVTOL VX4 air taxis.
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Vertical has said it will seek concurrent certification of the VX4 in both the UK and European Union – an objective that was considerably simplified by regulators in Britain saying last month they’d adopt the European Aviation Safety Agency’s standards for eVTOL air taxis.
The four-passenger, single-pilot Vertical VX4 eVTOL is projected to reach speeds of up to 200 mph over a range of more than 100 nearly silent miles of flight, with zero emissions and lower cost per passenger mile than many air taxis under development.
Securing a partner for the conception and sufficient production capacities of safe, powerful, and reliable batteries to power the aircraft was considered a major challenge remaining for the company. For that reason, Vertical CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick cheered the link-up with Molicel as bringing future VX4 service – and eVTOL air taxi travel in general – closer to reality.
“The future of electric aviation is dependent on safe, high-performance battery systems and fundamental to this is the battery cells themselves,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s why I am delighted to be partnering with Molicel, producer of the world’s highest power cells. Molicel has a rich history of innovation and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in energy storage. We see many similarities between ourselves and Molicel and we couldn’t think of a better partner to bring the VX4 to market.”
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Vertical says its pre-order book of up to 1,350 eVTOL aircraft options is worth around $5.4 billion. Clients behind those include American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Bristow, Marubeni, and Iberojet, as well as Japan Airlines, Gol, Gozen Holding, and AirAsia,