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Nidec forms electric aircraft JV with Embraer

19 June, 2023

The Japanese motor-maker Nidec and the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer are forming a joint venture called Nidec Aerospace to develop electric propulsion systems for the aerospace sector. They are planning to develop an “agnostic” portfolio of products and services, driven initially by the growth of the urban air mobility (UAM) industry.

The JV’s first customer will be the Florida-based eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) manufacturer Eve Air Mobility, which has just announced that it is collaborating with the US airline United to launch electric commuter flights in the San Francisco Bay Area. Eve started life in 2017 as a project in Enbraer’s Embraer-X market accelerator operation and became a standalone company in 2020, before going public in 2022.

Eve has also announced that BAE Systems will provide an advanced energy storage system for its 100km-range eVTOL. Eve plans to start building its first full-scale prototype in the second half of 2023, and to start tests in 2024. The aircraft is due to enter service in 2026. It will be piloted at launch, but will evolve towards uncrewed operation.

Nidec Aerospace (in which Nidec will have a 51% stake) will have its headquarters at Nidec Motor Corporation in St Louis, Missouri, and will be supported by both parents’ existing operations in Brazil and Mexico. It will initially offer electric propulsion systems for eVTOL aircraft, with the aim of extending to non-eVTOL vehicles in the future.

Michael Briggs, president of Nidec’s Motion & Energy business, says the JV “is a natural extension of both companies’ respective and continual investments in green technologies across multiple industries to accelerate global carbon neutrality. We are proud to be partnered with Embraer, and are confident that Nidec Aerospace will spearhead the electrification of aircraft.

“We are excited to have Eve as our launch customer,” he adds. “With our cutting-edge technologies, Nidec Aerospace and Eve together are well-positioned to drive and accelerate advances in electrified urban air mobility towards a more sustainable future.”

Embraer’s president and CEO, Francisco Gomes Neto points out that “demand for electric propulsion systems is growing exponentially in the aerospace sector. We are very confident that Nidec and Embraer together can accelerate the development of advanced products to enable the future of sustainable aviation.”

Eve Air and United are working together to identify future routes for UAMs in the San Francisco Bay area.

“Our shared goal is to provide residents and visitors to the area with efficient and cost-competitive transportation in one of the most densely populated urban areas in the US,” says Eve’s co-CEO, Andre Stein. “The Bay area is perfect for eVTOL flights given its size, traffic, focus on sustainability, innovation and commitment to add other options for mobility.”

Eve’s eVTOL aircraft is due to enter service in 2026, powered by Nidec Aerospace systems

“Urban Air Mobility has the potential to revolutionise how United customers work, live, and travel,” adds Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures. “Eve’s proposed route is a critical first step towards making this all-electric and quiet commute a reality for Bay Area residents.”

In 2022, United invested $15m in Eve Air Mobility and signed a conditional purchase agreement for 200 eVTOLs, with an option for 200 more.

Eve’s eVTOL aircraft uses a lift+cruise configuration with eight propellers for vertical flight and fixed wings for cruising, with no change in the position of these components during flight. It includes an electric “pusher” powered by dual electric motors that provide propulsion redundancy while ensuring high performance and safety. The aircraft is being designed to offer quiet, efficient thrust, as well as low operating costs, few parts, and optimised structures and systems.

The Nidec Aerospace JV remains subject to antitrust and other approvals. The transaction is expected to close at the second half of 2023.

Embraer is the leading manufacturer of commercial jets up to 150 seats and has delivered more than 8,000 aircraft to date. An Embraer aircraft takes off about once every 10 seconds somewhere in the world, transporting more than 145 million passengers a year.

Eve Air MobilityTwitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

Nidec Motor CorporationTwitter  LinkedIn

EmbraerTwitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

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