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.
Supernal Company revealed its initial eVTOL vehicle cabin concept at 2022 Farnborough International Airshow, providing the first look at how Hyundai Motor Group is integrating automotive capabilities to develop the Advanced Air mobility (AAM) market.
Supernal partnered with Hyundai Group’s design studios to create the cabin concept as the Company works to certify its eVTOL vehicle for commercial use in the United States starting in 2028 – and in the E.U. and U.K. shortly after. Beyond the vehicle, Supernal is collaborating with external partners and the Group’s more than 50 affiliates – which span automobiles, automotive parts, construction, robotics and autonomous driving – to responsibly co-create the expansive AAM value chain.
Harnessing automotive Design
Supernal’s five-seat cabin concept provides clues to how the brand is harnessing automotive design processes and materials – while meeting commercial aviation’s highest safety standards – to optimize the AAM passenger experience and price-point. The design embodies biomimicry philosophy – a butterfly in this case – and the Company’s pillars of safety above all, human-centered design and environmental responsibility.
“Supernal is partnering with Hyundai Motor Group’s top automotive designers to develop our eVTOL vehicle for manufacturability and wide-spread public acceptance,” Jaiwon Shin, Chief Executive Officer – Supernal. “We are taking the time to create a safe, light-weight commercial eVTOL that provides our future passengers with the security and comfort they find in their own cars.”
The team of engineers and designers utilized the automotive industry’s reductive design approach to create the light-weight interior cabin, which is made of forged carbon fiber. Ergonomically contoured seats offer a cocoon-like environment for passengers. Deployable seat consoles mimic automobile center consoles and provide a charging station and stowage compartment for personal items. Grab handles built into the cabin doors and seatbacks assist with ingress and egress. A combination of lighting – including overhead lights inspired by automobile sunroofs – adjusts with the various stages of flight to emulate a “light therapy” effect. The cabin layout draws on automotive space innovation with a minimized bulkhead, which allows for generous headroom and package functionalities.
With sustainability as a priority, the cabin concept incorporates materials such as advanced recyclable carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic, durable plant-based leather, recycled plastic fabric and responsibly sourced woods. The seat frame also utilizes excess raw material from the airframe manufacturing process.
“The Supernal eVTOL vehicle draws on the competence of the Hyundai Motor Group and the skillset of experienced automotive designers, which allowed us to develop a new air mobility concept that is not only safe and rational but also highly emotional,” said Luc Donckerwolke, Chief Creative Officer of Hyundai Motor Group.
Developing Air mobility Beyond Urban Markets
Hyundai Group is leveraging its expansive mobility and mobility-enabling capabilities to develop a family of electric air vehicles, as well as the surrounding value chain.
Complementing U.S.-based Supernal’s battery-powered eVTOL vehicle designed for intra-city passenger journeys starting in 2028, Hyundai Group’s Korea-based division focused on Regional Air mobility is developing a hydrogen-powered mid-sized vehicle for regional – city-to-city – cargo and passenger journeys. The Division plans to launch service of its hydrogen vehicle in the 2030s.
Supernal and the Division are partnering with the Group’s manufacturing innovation teams across the globe to create a robust high-rate, high-quality AAM manufacturing process that will produce electric air vehicles at scale – at an increasingly affordable price-point – over the coming decades.