Vertical take-off and landing (VTOLs) aircraft are taking off, electric airplanes (e-planes) are going further and further through the sky, and a new Pipistrel deal tells us the electric Alpha Electro will be built and sold in the biggest electric vehicle market of all — China.
We covered the electric Pipistrel a little while back. Last Friday, the Slovenian aircraft maker announced it struck a deal with a Chinese entrepreneur to manufacture its electric Alpha Electro two-seater and hybrid Panthera four-seater in China. This means a greater distribution and adoption of electric planes around the globe. It also means that Pipistrel will open the Chinese e-plane market, something so far no one has done, at least to our knowledge.
With the partnership now official, Pipistrel is opening up its electric Alpha Electro and hybrid Panthera to 11 Asian countries. The partnership also opens up capital to step up the production of Pipistrels and bring the company on par with bigger companies.
As of now, Pipistrel is partially owned by the newly formed Pipistrel Asia-Pacific joint venture, with the remaining 49% controlled by Chinese businessman Danny Wu Hao. Founder Ivo Boscarol continues to control the company with 51% of the shares. However, Pipistrel was quick to note that the ownership of both Slovene companies, Pipistrel d.o.o. and Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, remains 100% Slovenian. They are apparently different projects altogether … sort of.
Pipistrel d.o.o. will sell the technology and the rights for production and sales for the two aircraft models to Pipistrel Asia-Pacific for a significant part of SE Asia and its 11 country reach. As of now, thePipistrel Asia-Pacific, General Aviation Technology Co. Ltd company is the general distributor of Pipistrel for China.
Confused? Okay, we’re done with the legal mumbo jumbo.
Pipistrel, Not So Small Anymore
In order to build up Pipistrel’s presence in China, Danny Wu Hao said that he would build an airport near Nanjing, China, where the Pipistrels will be manufactured. As part of Project Jurong, Hao agreed to build a new airport, an aircraft factory, a villas compound, and a department of aviation university within two years. Hao established the next step of the project through two new companies that will acquire the land in order to manufacture the craft and install local attractions.
It’s a new world, and Chinese groups and companies are now helping Western companies spread their wings over Asia. Who’s next?