Tuesday, September 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Moller signs agreement to advance Skycar development

Skycar Neuera Model M200G during wind tunnel testing. Courtesy photo

By
From page A1 | January 30, 2013 |

The effect of a partnership between a Davis-based flying vehicle developer and a Southern California business consortium may be the present looking more like the future.

Moller International Inc. — a company run by Davis inventor and entrepreneur Paul Moller — is the developer of a four-person vehicle with potential for vertical take-off and landing, known as Skycar. It is also responsible for the two-person Neuera aircraft, Rotapower rotary engines and Aerobot line of unmanned aerial vehicles.

To ground these floating automobiles in a mass-market reality, the company announced last week it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Athena Technologies LLC in Los Angeles.

The joint venture, which is expected to be finalized and approved within weeks, solidifies an initial $80 million for Moller International. The investment will total $480 million for co-production of the Skycar and Neuera aircraft, which is slated for 2014.

“Our company is historically a research and development company,” Moller said. “That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t mean a lot for getting the product — an aircraft — into the market, particularly ones that will revolutionize transportation.”

The need for funds was further made clear as Moller detailed the next step of development — placing a full-size aircraft inside an appropriately scaled wind tunnel testing chamber: “It’s to confirm that the data we’ve seen in our wind tunnels is accurate, before we have someone flying forward at 300 miles per hour. … Just to give you a sense of the technology’s cost, it can be roughly $1 million per day for these tests.”

Depending on how long the process of finalizing the agreement takes, Moller added, the company hopes to demonstrate the latest aerial vehicle models before international media members in the fall.

Moller has been developing versions of the Skycar for more than three decades, and occasionally has exhibited the potential of his machines to the public and shareholders in controlled environments.

In December 2011, Moller announced another joint-venture partnership with a collective of private companies in China for overseas distribution. Included in the provisions of that agreement was $13.7 billion in funding.

Moller contributed the use of its intellectual property to that joint venture, including aircraft designs, Rotapower aviation engines, ducted fan designs and flight control system architecture. In the new agreement with Athena, Moller retains intellectual property rights.

Athena also works on China-America trade relations, as well as e-business networks. According to its website, it is a business consortium consisting of several U.S. private equity funds and credit guarantee companies.

“(Athena CEO) John Gong is incredibly well-connected in China,” Moller explained. “They wanted to partner with an American company to build Skycars in China. … I think it’s driven partly by the company’s interest in the technology, but also driven by what the Chinese government wants to do in China.”

Moller emphasized how pleased he has been with the support, as his lifelong obsession with being the first producer of a flying vehicle builds momentum.

“We’ve been facing an issue of survival at various times over many years,” he said. “It has been a really tough struggle of getting the capital. However, there have been investments totaling close to $100 million over a long stretch of time.

“And it’s a great satisfaction to be able to reward the investors who have stuck with you through such an extended period of time. … We couldn’t be more excited. I can promise you that.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Davis school nurses are stretched thin

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Sierra Club gathers for morning walks

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    DPNS has afternoon openings

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Paws for Thought: Socialize your new pup at UCD’s Yappy Hour

    By Evelyn Dale | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    DHS parents go back to school

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    New DHS Hall-of-Famers

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A3

    Exploration of dementia lecture set for Sept. 25

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sick-pay benefits expanded to millions

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A4

     
    Bad roads cost Californians billions

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Farmers market continues at Sutter Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Yolo County’s looking for a few good advisers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Search the Internet at Connections Café

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Garage, bake sales benefit outdoor education trip

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5

    Sutter qigong classes start Sept. 22

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Hundreds flee wildfires; homes burn

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Harmony Award nominations sought

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Da Vinci seniors take on Constitution essay

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    .

    Forum

    Sounds like a swell party

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Maybe not the best rebound guy

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Nate Beeler cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Many reasons to back Sunder

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    I support Madhavi Sunder

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    A leader with heart and vision

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Carbon fee and dividend plan is the answer

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Open Cup final has local flavor

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1

     
    Devil volleyball victories keep piling up

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS needs just 10 boys to top Elk Grove

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Finding the good in a tough DHS football loss

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1

    More pressure on QB would be nice for Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Raber: glad to join in bringing readers golf column

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B1

    Highlights galore in Junior Blue Devil weekend

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Big Monday for Masiel as DHS golfers win league opener

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Jane Eyre’ to screen at I-House

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Anais Mitchell to play Third Space

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    ‘Shrek, The Musical’ shines at DMTC

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Irish fiddlers come to Davis house show

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Jenny Lynn and Her Real Gone Daddies play at Picnic in the Park

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Woodland artist hosts event at her new studio

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

     
    Comics: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7