SkyDrive picks South Carolina as base of its US eVTOL business

SkyDrive eVTOL

Japan’s electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) developer, SkyDrive, is looking beyond the planned debut of its SD-05 “flying car” at the 2025 World Expo in Osaka by establishing a base in South Carolina as its operational foothold for future business in the US.

SkyDrive said its new offices in South Carolina will oversee the company’s work to develop an advanced air mobility (AAM) ecosystem that will benefit use of its two-seat SD-05 eVTOL plane, as well as the state’s efforts to promote next-generation aircraft services. Based on information in the company’s announcement, it appears the headquarters will focus on identifying and pursuing operational and marketing opportunities in the US, and at least initially not involve production capabilities.

Although the SkyDrive announcement did not specify an exact location for its US antenna, it said it has been exploring opportunities in the state since first being invited there last July by the Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation (BCEDC), making Beaufort a likely locale. 

In addition to working with the BCEDC, SkyDrive said it had already begun interfacing with South Carolina authorities and other AAM stakeholders, and was pursuing a “variety of practical use cases originating from two of its key airports” interested in facilitating the company’s eVTOL operation

SkyDrive also noted both the state’s experience in aviation and the presence of many sector companies as motivating its move to locate there.

“The decision to make South Carolina our home base and our window into the US market was an easy one considering that it is a significant player in both the commercial and military aviation industries, and it is home to more than 400 aerospace and aviation companies including Boeing and Lockheed Martin,” said SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa. “I sincerely believe that the vast number of resources available in South Carolina will provide SkyDrive with a substantial platform that enables us to achieve our goals.”

First introduced as a personal “flying car” concept, SkyDrive has developed its eVTOL to the current SD-05 iteration, which appears designed for commercial air taxi operation with a pilot and passenger, as well as potential private flight. The 12-rotor craft is expected to fly up to 10 km on a single charge at maximum cruise speeds of around 100 km/h.

In 2021 SkyDrive’s aircraft type certification application for the SD-05 was accepted by Japanese regulators, and officials have since said the company will also seek certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Founded in 2018 by former Toyota executives, SkyDrive is a member of Japan’s Public-Private Council for Air Mobility Revolution, which is made up of researchers, government ministry officials, and executives of AAM, passenger airline, logistics, tech, and other companies. Their common goal is to establish business models and technical standards to quickly usher in commercial use of next-generation aerial vehicles and services. 

Subscribe to DroneDJ on YouTube for exclusive videos

Load more...
Show More Comments