Electric Cars vs. Electric VTOL Aircraft

February 12, 2023

While electric cars have gained popularity for their exceptional advantages on the road, electric aircraft are now emerging as a promising alternative. However, not all electric aircraft offer a real improvement in terms of convenience, range, sustainability, passenger capacity, or passenger experience. As the aviation industry looks towards a more sustainable future, it's important to consider the practical benefits for travelers, communities, and the environment.

In this post, we'll break down the various electric aircraft types and explore which ones offer the most significant improvements over traditional aircraft and electric cars. From eVTOLs to hybrid-electric models, we'll delve into the advantages and limitations of each to help you make an informed decision about the future of air travel.

Competing for the Future of Sustainable Travel

Does it makes sense to take passengers out of an electric car and put them in an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft? It isn’t necessarily a better alternative. The right electric aircraft technology must provide clear advantages over electric cars in order to contribute to the future of sustainable travel. Let's consider key use-cases.

Electric Cars vs. Air Taxis

Today, electric cars provide some benefits over gasoline-powered cars. They’re quieter and more environmentally friendly, and they require less maintenance. However, looking at travel on the road, there are some clear disadvantages. Electric cars don’t have the same range as gasoline-powered cars. Most have a range of about 60 to 120 miles per charge, with some luxury cars having a range of up to 300 miles per charge. If you’re commuting every day, electric cars often just aren’t practical. 

In addition, “refueling” takes longer and presents passengers with huge time inconveniences, especially when their jobs require frequent travel. Electric cars typically cost more upfront, though they do require less upkeep than gas-powered cars. 

While electric cars can work for certain passengers, they’re not ideal for everyone. And what about comparing them to air taxis? Air taxis are small commercial aircraft that make short flights on demand. They could potentially transport passengers from city to suburb and office to home in a quieter, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly way.  

But even so, air taxis have some of the same problems as electric cars. Because of battery density, electric air taxis have a short range of about 15 to 25 miles. This isn’t practical for passengers with daily commutes longer than that range. Because of their size, air taxis would only hold a few passengers at a time, limiting the number of people they could realistically transport throughout the day, especially at peak traffic times. Air taxis would likely need to travel in lanes to avoid collisions and other interference, resulting in the same traffic congestion in the air as on the ground. 

Though they’re sometimes called the solution for urban mobility, air taxis are not as sustainable as they may seem, especially for those traveling already-congested routes daily. Noise factors into this, too. If we have hundreds — maybe even thousands — of air taxis traveling close to homes, offices, and other infrastructure, it’s almost impossible to guarantee no noise with these aircraft. While air taxis appear promising, they end up creating many of the same challenges as electric cars and could further congest air travel.

Electric Cars vs. Battery-Electric VTOL

What about electric cars vs. battery-electric VTOL aircraft? Battery-electric VTOL aircraft run entirely on electric propulsion. These aircraft can take off and land vertically, making them more maneuverable and convenient than traditional aircraft that require long runways to take off and land. Like electric air taxis, eVTOL aircraft are theoretically cleaner, quieter, and more efficient than traditional aircraft. They are many different eVTOL startups, with an array of designs that include vectored thrust, lift and cruise, and wingless designs. 

But compared to electric cars, eVTOLs have their own challenges. Much of an eVTOL’s power is used up during its takeoff with the energy required to ascend vertically. And because of battery density, eVTOLs can’t carry a bigger battery to give them more power without adding more safeguards. Their range is limited to about double that of air taxis: 25 to 60 miles. Even with this slightly larger range, most eVTOL aircraft still fall short of the shortest range of the average electric car. In terms of sustainability over distance, eVTOLs don’t measure up to electric cars.

eVTOL aircraft have other disadvantages that are similar to those of electric cars. They would require charging stations and consume passengers’ and airlines’ time while reaching full charge again. This wasted time would likely not be repaid, since eVTOLs are only capable of such short-range trips. While eVTOLs could be helpful for people looking to travel short distances quickly, we run into a similar situation as with air taxis. If we have hundreds of eVTOLs carrying a few passengers each, we create the same congestion in the air as on the ground, especially in heavily populated areas. 

While eVTOLs offer perhaps a more sustainable solution than air taxis alone, they’re still limited by their complete reliance on electric propulsion. Their range is a particular problem, especially since it falls short of even the electric car’s range.

Electric Cars vs. Hybrid-Electric VTOL

Is there an ideal solution that’s practical and sustainable? We definitely think so. 

Where the electric car is environmentally friendly but lacks practical long-distance capacity, hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft is the answer. Like battery-electric VTOL, hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft have the ability to take off and land vertically, eliminating their need to operate in traditional airports with long runways. However, unlike eVTOLs, hybrid VTOL aircraft run on a mixture of electricity and aviation fuel. This gives them a much smaller carbon footprint than conventional aircraft while still enabling them to transport passengers and cargo efficiently over long distances. 

Odys Aviation's VTOL is the solution for smooth, seamless air travel. With a range of 750 miles (1,204 kilometers), it’s capable of traveling greater ranges than any electric car, air taxi, or eVTOL currently on the market. And it can travel the first 200 miles without using any fuel, making it ideal for airlines and passengers who want to travel sustainably and still make it to their destination on time. 

Our aircraft also holds nine passengers and two pilots. This is another advantage over air taxis and eVTOLs, which hold too few passengers to be practical for the long term. Because of its characteristics as a hybrid, it offers excellent operational efficiency and can compete in both private and commercial markets. It’s ideal for airlines looking to jump-start their future with a more sustainable and practical aircraft.

Hybrid VTOL vs. Traditional Passenger Aircraft

Traditional passenger aircraft definitely have their place. We’ve all almost certainly flown in a traditional fuel-based plane or other aircraft before. But while these aircraft were technological marvels in years past, there are even better options available for the future. 

Our associations with traditional aircraft and airports often aren’t the best. They remind us of congestion, traffic, noise, delays, and other inconveniences that take up our time, energy, and money. Airlines face the challenges of accommodating even more people and cargo when they’re already at capacity. As a result, both operating efficiency and passenger satisfaction fall. 

Odys has a way to remedy the overcrowded rows and large carbon footprints of traditional flights. Our hybrid VTOL allows for more operational optionality. We take off under electric power and cruise using sustainable aviation fuel. We’re not limited to long runways like traditional aircraft and can depart from tower-top helipads or city airports. 

We’re also able to run short-hop and subregional routes on complete electric propulsion, eliminating CO2 emissions for flights up to 200 miles. For our longer flights, we reduce CO2 emissions by 76% compared to a regional jet of comparable size and capacity. We have a similar range, cruising altitude, and passenger capacity to same-sized aircraft, so we offer the practical aspects of traditional aircraft without sacrificing environmental friendliness. 

Our goal is to provide a better passenger experience by cutting travel times in half. The Odys Aviation hybrid electric VTOL has an accessible piloting style and reduced operation and maintenance costs, making it ideal for passengers, airlines, and airports.

Learn More About Odys Aviation’s Hybrid-Electric VTOL Aircraft

We’re constantly innovating to provide people with the safest and best experience possible. Our aircraft will make travel more efficient for airlines and passengers alike. To learn more about our next-gen features, check out our website and see why our VTOL is built for the future!

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Follow the Odys Aviation team as we continue test flights, earn type-certification, and change the way that the world travels. Stay in the loop as we take to the skies.