By Amanda Weston
As electric plane startup Eviation gets closer to takeoff, it is welcoming Siemens on board to make the propulsion systems for its Alice planes.
Omer Bar-Yohay, CEO and co-founder of Eviation, told Cheddar that its relationship with Siemens has matured to the point where both companies are basically saying Siemens believes in this product as something that could go to scale and is worth the industrial effort of bringing a motor like this to market."
"And we believe Siemens can definitely be the first ー and maybe in the long run the first of many ー motor suppliers for this industry that's kind of taking shape," he added.
Designed for regional flights, the Alice plane holds up to nine passengers and flies up to 650 miles on one charge at roughly 280 miles per hour. Bar-Yohay said Eviation's target customer is "literally anyone" looking to travel between 50 and 500 miles.
"One of the big advantages of actually taking people out of their cars and into those planes is that we use less energy to move people around, and we move them around together," Bar-Yohay said. "Today we're so happy to get people driving on this carpooling lane with two in a car. Think of a plane that takes seven or six or nine people."
Eviation says Alice's flight hourly cost is more than 50 percent lower than the current best-in-class fuel-operated plane.
The Alice plane also boasts a drop in travel time versus other modes of transportation. According to Eviation's website, it would take only 20 minutes to fly from Martha's Vineyard to Boston. Driving would take more than two hours.
The battery makes up a significant amount of the plane when it comes to weight. Alice's maximum takeoff weight is 14,000 pounds, but the battery alone is 7,800.
However, Bar-Yohay said today's technology still makes it possible for an electric plane to enter the regional commute market.
"We're not waiting around for other batteries," Bar-Yohay said. "If you were to tell me 'please build an all-electric 787 and let's fly the Atlantic' or something, I would probably tell you to wait a bit. But the distances that you need to travel in the regional commute are shorter and they could be achieved with today's batteries because of the big advantages that it could kind of take from the development in the auto industry."
"Now if you really ask what's the difference in 2019 or 2020 that makes this possible, in most cases it's not even batteries or motors. It's actually lightweight materials, the ability to build the rest of the plane lighter makes it possible for us to build the products today."
Alice will display at the Paris Air Show this year and is also set to makes its first flight in Tel Aviv. Eviation currently plans to complete its first customer deliveries in 2022.
For full interview click here.