Archer Aviation gets Stellantis investment as it plans for Covington plant

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

One of the world’s largest automakers is joining forces with an electric aircraft maker, investing in it and serving as the manufacturing partner at a Georgia factory for air taxis.

Archer Aviation, an electric aircraft developer that plans to open a manufacturing facility in Covington, has secured a $150 million funding commitment from auto manufacturer Stellantis, the parent of U.S. and European brands including Chrysler and Fiat.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Archer is developing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for air taxi service, and announced in November 2022 its plans to build its first factory about an hour east of Atlanta next to Covington Municipal Airport in Newton County. The facility is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs over time.

Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, announced Wednesday that the companies plan to start manufacturing Archer’s flagship eVTOL aircraft, known as Midnight, in 2024. Archer had previously planned to break ground on the new facility last month, but now plans to break ground this year.

Archer said last year when announcing plans for the plant that it will get an incentive package worth about one-third of its $118 million capital investment commitment, including tax incentives and a Georgia Regional Economic Business Assistance grant.

Stellantis says it will contribute its “advanced manufacturing technology and expertise, experienced personnel and capital,” with the goal of mass producing the aircraft as its exclusive contract manufacturer. Archer said the majority of employees at the facility will be new hires working for Archer.

Stellantis said it will provide up to $150 million in equity capital to be used by Archer in 2023 and 2024, subject to “achievement of certain business milestones.” Stellantis also plans to increase its holdings in Archer stock as a long-term investor.

Newton County Industrial Development Authority executive director Serra Hall in a written statement called the Stellantis announcement “further proof of the excitement that is building around Archer Aviation’s first manufacturing site based in Covington.”

It’s yet to be seen which companies will succeed in the fledging electric aircraft and air taxi industry.

Archer is one of the start-ups seeking to develop the concept known as urban air mobility, using electric aircraft that operate like helicopters to transport people within cities, avoiding road traffic. It is seeking to get Federal Aviation Administration certification for Midnight in late 2024.

Archer CEO Adam Goldsten said the Stellantis commitment “places Archer in a strong position to be first to market.”

“Supporting Archer with our manufacturing expertise is another example of how Stellantis will lead the way the world moves,” Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said in a written statement.

The agreement marks an expansion of a partnership in which Stellantis has lent its manufacturing, supply chain and design expertise to Archer since 2020, and has been an investor in Archer since 2021.

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Archer has partnered with United Airlines, and the two companies announced last year plans to launch their first phase of commercial electric air taxi service in 2025 from downtown Manhattan to Newark Liberty International Airport.