Archer Aviation finds a partner to commercialize eVTOL travel in Korea, demo flights coming in Q4


Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Archer Aviation is continuing to lay the global groundwork for commercial operations in a new territory: South Korea. The next-generation aircraft specialist has announced a new partnership with Korea’s leading mobility-as-a-service company, KaKaoMobility, to participate in the country’s Grand Challenge and bring eVTOL travel to the region quickly.

Archer Aviation ($ACHR) is one of the more popular eVTOL developers in a growing segment of emissions-free air travel that continues to wield momentum as a global player in the space. With airworthiness certification from the FAA already in place and investments from big names like United, Stellantis, and even the US Air Force, Archer has (literally) taken to the skies and expanded its brand outward beyond its headquarters in Santa Clara, California.

In the fall of 2023, mere days after announcing a deal to launch eVTOL air taxi services across the United Arab Emirates, Archer Aviation completed a maiden voyage in its flagship Midnight aircraft in its native US.

As Archer continues the Midnight’s “for credit” testing process to achieve commercial operation authorization with the FAA this year, it has continued to secure partnerships in other countries to bring advanced air mobility (AAM) to the masses. Since the initial eVTOL flight, Archer has signed deals to bring air taxi operations to India while most recently expanding its plans in the UAE in a new deal worth an estimated $500 million.

Today, Archer shared additional expansion plans in Asia, securing a fresh partnership in South Korea to help the country reach its ambitious plans to bring commercial eVTOL operations to the region by 2026. With a payment plan already in place, those efforts are expected to begin later this year.

eVTOL Korea
Baek Won-kug, Vice Minister for Transport of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of Korea meets with KaKaoMobility and Archer leadership to commemorate agreement / Source: Archer Aviation

Archer and KaKaoMobility to help bring eVTOLs to Korea

Per an update from Archer Aviation early this morning, it has signed an agreement with KaKaoMobility to jointly participate in the K-UAM Grand Challenge – a public-private demonstration held in the country to garner public support for eVTOL technology.

As part of the agreement, KaKaoMobility has agreed to pay Archer $7 million in 2024 to begin developing and establishing commercial eVTOL operations in Korea, followed by a second payment installation expected to follow in early 2025. The agreement also entitles KaKaoMobility to the purchase of up to 50 Archer Midnight eVTOLs worth approximately $250 million. Pre-delivery payments are also expected in 2025 following the Grand Challenge.

However, before then, Archer and KaKaoMobility intend to use the 2024 Grand Challenge as a public stage to demonstrate how eVTOL aircraft can transform daily commutes in Korea. The demonstrations will take place beside South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT), which is hosting the event and has vowed to help commercialize urban air mobility (UAM) by the mid-2020s. Archer’s chief commercial officer, Nikhil Goel, elaborated:

Archer is expanding its international launch strategy to South Korea through this landmark partnership between Archer Aviation and KakaoMobility. Together, we are committed to revolutionizing transportation with Archer’s eVTOL aircraft, ushering in a future of cleaner, faster, and more efficient travel between and within Korean cities.

Looking ahead, KaKaoMobility intends to own and operate Archer’s eVTOL technology in South Korea and offer air taxi rides to its 30 million current app users as early as 2026. Service is expected to begin in the capital of Seoul, where, according to Archer, the average commuter spends roughly 90 minutes per day stuck in road traffic.

Archer says it will work alongside KaKaoMobility with a goal to conduct public demonstration flights in Korea by late 2024. The K-UAM Grand Challenge is currently accepting applicants and will allow five to demo their technology this coming December.

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