Electric Air Taxi Company Archer plans $118 million Georgia factory

ATLANTA (AP) — A California company that wants to build small electric airplanes says it will invest $118 million to build a plant near Atlanta and eventually hire up to 1,000 people.

Archer Aviation, based in Santa Clara, Calif., said Monday it would seek to build its planes next to an airport in Covington, Georgia.

Archer is one of many companies trying to build electric air taxis. Archer’s plan calls for a six-propeller, battery-powered vertical takeoff and landing craft that can accommodate four passengers and one pilot. The propellers would spin, allowing the plane to take off and land like a helicopter and fly like an airplane.

The idea is that such vehicles could be used for short flights, especially in urban areas. United Airlines said last week it would fly the plane from downtown Manhattan to United’s hub at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, cutting a trip that can take an hour by car in traffic jams to 10 minutes .

United had previously made a $10 million down payment to purchase 100 aircraft from Archer for $1 billion. United later put down a $15 million deposit for another company’s 200 aircraft.

After building a prototype weighing 3,330 pounds (1,510 kilograms), the company plans to unveil a production model, dubbed “Midnight,” on Wednesday, which is expected to enter service in 2025. Archer said.

Archer is still seeking Federal Aviation Administration certification, but says she could receive it in 2024. The company says it aims to produce 650 aircraft per year at the Georgia site, potentially to 2,300 per year. Automaker Stellantis, owner of Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram, provides manufacturing and engineering assistance.

Archer said it expects a roughly $40 million stimulus package from Georgia and local governments, including the donation of 96 acres (39 hectares) of land at Covington Municipal Airport, a state cash grant and other tax incentives. These often include a property tax break, as well as a tax credit for jobs that could be worth $15 million to Archer over five years, as long as employees make at least $31,300.

State and local officials did not immediately respond to questions Monday, including the decision to incentivize a startup in an unproven industry.

The company said it selected the Georgia site because of locally available labor, the ability to conduct test flights, affordable construction costs and good highway, rail and air connections.

“Our eVTOL technology can transform the way urban and rural communities live and commute, and this factory can create pathways to high-skilled manufacturing cooktops and other ladders of social and economic opportunity,” Archer CEO Adam Goldstein said in a Explanation using an acronym for Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing.

Archer said it expects to raise money from Georgia-based Synovus Financial Corp. to borrow for construction of the facility, which is expected to begin and complete in 2024. The company went public last year and raised about $850 million. The company lost $91 million and reported $600 million in cash for the quarter ended September 30.

Georgian economic development officials have focused on recruiting electric car companies, landing large plants from Rivian Automotive and Hyundai Motor Group in the past year. Norwegian battery startup Freyr on Friday announced a $2.6 billion plant in Georgia, joining an already-built electric battery plant by South Korean firm SK Innovation.

Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said that aerospace-focused business recruiters have worked with Archer, saying that “technology and innovation continue to drive change in strategic industries.”

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.

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