By Eileen Mencias
eFrancisco Motor Corporation, the reincarnated jeepney manufacturer, has entered into a partnership with LuftCar LLC.
LuftCar, a startup based in Connecticut, is developing an autonomous air and road vehicle with vertical take-off and landing capability.
The partnership aims to invest in, develop, deploy, and market LuftCar air vehicles. These will be used for airlifting eFMC-built road vehicle platforms and LuftCar-designed hydrogen propulsion technologies.
In a statement, LuftCar said the two companies will collaborate in the development of the LUFT-PINOY eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) powered by hydrogen.
LuftCar will develop the air vehicle prototype, while eFMC will provide the PINOY vehicle chassis.
The flying prototype is expected to be completed by the end of 2024 and can be used in defense and cargo operations.
It will manufacture the aircraft in a 200-hectare special economic zone in Camarines Norte in partnership with eFMC.
The eVTOL technology is ideal for an archipelago like the Philippines, which has over 7,100 islands. The technology can be used in public transportation, last-mile delivery, emergency response, disaster relief, law enforcement, defense, and border patrol.
“Philippines and Southeast Asia have been of great strategic importance for LuftCar. Our flying and road vehicle concept is tailor-made for connecting the archipelagos and serving cargo, air ambulance, tourism, and regional transportation needs. Our hydrogen propulsion will address long-distance and heavy payload carrying requirements in the region,” LuftCar CEO Santh Sathya said.
“Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, and that future is now. We, the Philippines, are at the center of it,” eFMC Chair Elmer Francisco said.