Archer Aviation Inc., a United Airlines-backed startup, unveiled its future electric aircraft in congested Los Angeles, one of the places where the business hopes to one-day shuttle customers to and from the airport.
According to Palo Alto, California-based Archer, the Maker electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle will have a 60-mile range and fly at 150 mph when it enters commercial service in 2024.
On Thursday evening in Hawthorne, California, roughly five miles from Los Angeles International Airport, Archer officials unveiled their Maker car at a glittering event. The business also intends to set up shop in Miami. Airlines and other businesses envision a future in which eVTOLs reduce traffic congestion by transporting people in small electric aircraft that emit no carbon dioxide.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. has made a $20 million investment in Archer, which announced in February that it intends to merge with a special purpose acquisition firm led by investment banker Ken Moelis later this year. The startup was valued at $3.8 billion in that deal.
United also plans to acquire as many as 200 Makers from Archer if the aircraft meets its performance and operational needs.
The Maker made its public debut on the same day that United Airlines rival American Airlines Group Inc. announced it would preorder 250 four-seat VA-X4 electric aircraft developed by Vertical Aerospace Group Ltd. in the United Kingdom. American also announced a $25 million investment in Vertical. Joby Aviation and Lilium GmbH, two other eVTOL companies, have decided to go public through SPAC mergers.
Litigation has eclipsed the Maker's progress. In April, rival eVTOL developer Wisk Aero LLC filed a lawsuit in the United States accusing Archer of stealing its technology. Former employees allegedly stole files and confidential designs from the company, according to Wisk, a venture financed by Boeing Co. and Google billionaire Larry Page's Kitty Hawk Corp.
On June 1, Archer filed a motion rejecting Wisk's allegations and requesting that the lawsuit be dismissed.