Saudi Arabia's futuristic $500-billion new city Neom has joined forces with Volocopter, a pioneer of urban air mobility, to set up a new venture that will design, implement, and operate the world's first bespoke public vertical mobility system within its upcoming sustainable development in the kingdom.
Air taxi and vertical logistics services will be fully integrated with the overall multi-modal and zero-emission public transit system in Neom.
As per the deal, the JV will be the sole operator of initial public transit routes across Neom, while enabling an open eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) ecosystem for vertical mobility services including logistics, emergency response, and tourism.
Neom will be the home and workplace to more than a million residents from around the world. It will include hyperconnected, cognitive towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centers, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations.
As a hub for innovation, it will attract entrepreneurs, business leaders and companies who will come to the city for research, incubation and commercialition of new technologies and enterprises in groundbreaking ways.
Residents of the Saudi futuristic city will embody an international ethos and embrace a culture of exploration, risk-taking and diversity – all supported by a progressive law compatible with international norms and conducive to economic growth.
Neom has already placed a confirmed order of 15 Volocopter aircraft to commence initial flight operations within the next 2-3 years.
"In designing cities and urban infrastructure for the 21st century, mobility is at the center of the equation. Through this joint venture with Volocopter, we are demonstrating to the world that Neom is the ideal region to implement urban air mobility rapidly and create a fully integrated vertical mobility ecosystem," remarked its CEO Nadhmi Al Nasr.
"Neom is on a mission to become a global living lab for future mobility, and we are very excited to see what the future holds as we grow," he added.
Neom pointed out that its collaboration with Volocopter will lead the design and development of a truly three-dimensional public transportation system, advancing the technical, regulatory, and infrastructure solutions for eVTOL operations across Neom.
The JV will offer vertical mobility services as an integral part of Neom's multi-modal and zero-emissions public mobility system, providing seamless connectivity for passengers and goods.
Head of Mobility Florian Lennert said: "We are incredibly excited and proud to partner with Volocopter to make vertical mobility a reality here at Neom. Volocopter is internationally recognized for leading innovation in the eVTOL industry and is a perfect match for our ambitious goals to create the first truly sustainable, shared, and seamlessly integrated mobility system in the world."
"Volocopter's expertise, experience, and vision will allow us to lead the design and implementation of eVTOL operations regionally and globally. I am truly looking forward to jointly revolutionizing mobility," he added.
Founded in 2011, Volocopter employs more than 500 people in Germany and Singapore, has completed over 1,000 successful public and private test flights, and raised €322 million in equity from investors, including Daimler, Geely, DB Schenker, BlackRock, and Intel Capital.
Volocopter and Neom have agreed an initial order of 10 VoloCity passenger and 5 VoloDrone logistics aircraft to support early activation of flight operations.
The JV will scale-up its activities from the beginning of 2022 to incubate urban air mobility (UAM) in the region and seed a vertical mobility ecosystem.
The partnership delivers on NEOM's mission to be a global living lab for future mobility and a center of excellence for eVTOL innovation and industry.
On the new Neom partnership, Chief Commercial Officer Christian Bauer said: "As pioneers in the industry, Volocopter is honored to be the trusted partner to contribute to the Saudi futuristic city's ambitious vision."
"The new JV we are creating together is going to be an exciting journey. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be an essential part of designing and operating a completely new UAM ecosystem from the ground up without the constraint of legacy infrastructure or regulation," noted Bauer.
According to him, the eVTOLs are an essential part of Neom's mobility mission, enabling transportation of people and goods without extensive surface infrastructure.
"Vertical mobility services will connect Neom's core urban development The Line, reimagined industrial city Oxagon and other regional destinations, avoiding extensive road construction and thus protecting its unique natural environment," he added.