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United Airlines steps up to buy $1B worth of Archer's future flying taxis

The startup plans for a reveal of its eVTOL machine sometime this year, but United is onboard.

Archer eVTOL
Archer has only released a teaser of its machine so far.

You probably haven't heard of Archer -- no, not the beloved animated sitcom, it's an aviation startup currently at work on an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. On Wednesday it landed a hefty purchase agreement from United Airlines. The company announced United will buy $1 billion worth of its upcoming eVTOLs as the airline looks at ways to diminish the industry's carbon footprint. It's a hell of a lot of trust to place in Archer, which hasn't shown its actual product yet.

Archer also announced that it's going public via a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. It further announced a common stock private investment from a handful of other companies, including Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Last month, the automaker partnered with Archer to give the benefit of its supply chain, engineering and design expertise. Archer also said at the time its production eVTOL will include cockpit elements from Stellantis' passenger vehicles. This emerging sector is turning into a wild weave of partnerships and connected dots.

Back to the United purchase, and the airline said Archer's upcoming electric aircraft could play a big part in reducing emissions when it comes to traveling to and from the airport. The company sees the machines as possible zero-emission, and quick, ways to bring passengers to long-distance hubs to cut down on congestion. If United likes what it sees, the agreement allows for the purchase of another $500 million worth of eVTOLs, which could deploy as soon as 2024.

We should see the eVTOL debut in the coming months, but as more air taxi news floods the zone, it looks like 2021 could be a wild ride.

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