South Korean transportation giant Hyundai has announced the creation of an advanced air mobility (AAM) company, Supernal LLC. The company will pursue the development of next-generation passenger electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, and aims to conduct its first commercial flight in 2028.
Hyundai described the US-based Supernal as a spinoff company that will take the lead in developing the conglomerate’s first family of eVTOL vehicles. Supernal was initially created as an internal unit of the Urban Air Mobility Division and assigned with working on a concept craft called the S-A1. That is already in advanced stages, with the plane expected to begin the certification process with US regulatory agencies in 2024 as an electric-powered, piloted or autonomous vehicle flying four to five passengers on urban and suburban routes.
“We’re developing a commercially viable Advanced Air Mobility product from the start, designing and manufacturing our vehicle to the highest safety, noise, efficiency, and affordability standards,” said Ben Diachun, Supernal’s chief technology officer. “Our growing team, which includes veterans of aerospace, automotive, and other deep-tech industries, is engineering sustainable vehicles that have the potential to evolve how we live, work, and play.”
Supernal will also launch the development of a wider range of aerial vehicles whose first commercial flights are slated for in 2028. It will be aiming for large-scale production and marketing of those in the early 2030s, when Hyundai expects AAM services to begin booming, as it anticipates cautiously firming public acceptance.
That longer time frame, however, will also be packed with other missions for the new company.
Supernal to integrate AAM craft and services into emerging urban mobility technologies
Indeed, Supernal’s anointment as a stand-alone unit will place it at the forefront of the 50 different companies Hyundai created as part of its transformation from an automotive group into a leading player in diversified mobility technologies. Part of Supernal’s brief will be to find a way of integrating those AAM vehicles into extant transit networks and to design seamless transitioning processes from one type of next-generation transport to others.
To facilitate that, Hyundai foresees passengers using a single app to plan a multi-leg journey. A day’s movements in that way might include a ride in a chauffeured car, later taking some form of urban rail, still later hopping on an eVTOL at a vertiport for a fast trip across town, and perhaps jumping on an e-scooter for the last few blocks home.
“In adding a new dimension to mobility, we are on a mission to transform how people and society move, connect, and live,” said Jaiwon Shin, chief executive officer of Supernal, and president of the Hyundai Motor Group. “We have bold ambitions at Supernal, but being first to market is not one of them. We are working to build the right product and the right integrated market, and we will leverage Hyundai Motor Group’s scaled manufacturing expertise to ensure AAM reaches the right price point and is accessible to the masses.”
Being part of that larger Hyundai empire will afford Supernal advantages independent AAM startups can only dream of. It will be able to make use of existing Hyundai advanced technologies and systems, including artificial intelligence, autonomous control, electric powertrains, and airframe materials. Once the crafts are ready for manufacturing, Supernal will be able to rely on Hyundai’s mass production capabilities to scale output.