The Top 7 Leading Contenders in the Emerging UAM Market
Urban air mobility is coming. Between 2023 and 2030, eVTOLs, hybrid eVTOLs, and perhaps a technology not yet divulged, will ferry passengers from airports to city centers in air taxis, deliver retailers’ parcels to customers, help rescue injured adventurers from treacherous terrain, help fight wildfires, and give the good guys an advantage on fields of battle around the globe.
Which of the more than 500 aircraft in development catalogued by the Vertical Flight Society will make it through the rigorous certification processes required by regulators, such as the U.S.’s FAA, the EU’s EASA, Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau, and other agencies around the globe?
The answer is difficult to predict.
Well-Capitalized UAM Companies
One indicator of the probability of success is money. How much capital a VTOL company has access to in order to seize the opportunities UAM offers is one of the key indicators. Technology smarts, business savvy, and sometimes sheer luck, also play a part. But without the financial resources, many aircraft developers’ ventures will never get off the ground.
Here we present AeroCar Journal‘s 2021 list of the top seven leading contenders,* as measured by market capitalization (on 24 September 2021).
*This list only includes eVTOL and VTOL manufacturers that operate as standalone entities. Other well-capitalized and well-resourced initiatives by aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer were not included as the value of their UAM projects could not be separated out from the total value of the overall enterprise.
The race is on!
Joby Aviation Inc. Market Cap: US$6.2bn
Joby Aviation aims for a future filled with “electric aerial ridesharing.” The company has working relationships with NASA, Toyota, and the U.S. Air Force. It has already produced a subscale prototype. Company founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt (aka Joe B, we presume), is flight testing along California’s Central Coast.
Joby Aviation was the first U.S.-based eVTOL company to trade on NYSE, ticker JOBY, in August 2021.
Lilium GmBH NV Market Cap: US$ 3.0bn
Lilium, based in Weßling, Germany, is designing a seven-seat eVTOL (six passengers and pilot) with a luggage hold. The company is simultaneously pursuing certification from the U.S.’s FAA and the EU’s EASA.
More than 600 people work at Lilium (Nasdaq: LILM) to ensure safety, profitability, and designing and procuring the end-to-end infrastructure needed to get UAM off the ground successfully in the U.S. and Europe.
Ehang Holdings Ltd. ADS
Market Cap: US$2.8bn
With a focus on autonomous flight, EHang, headquartered in Guangzhou, China, has its sights set on being one of the world leaders in the UAM sector.
EHang (Nasdaq: EH) has already test-flown or received governmental permission to test-fly its aircraft in Austria, Estonia, and Japan. Passenger transport and parcel delivery are key areas of future operations for EHang, as are firefighting and medical evacuation (medevac) services.
Archer Aviation Inc. Market Cap: US$2.2bn
With its 75kwh battery and weighing just over 1500kg (about 3300 lbs.), Archer’s Maker eVTOL has a 60-mile range at speeds up to 150 mph.
Company founders, Brett Adcock and Adam Goldstein, have a vision to make sustainably-powered air mobility the norm for air travel, affordable “for the masses.”
It began trading on the NYSE under the symbols “ACHR” and “ACHR WS” in September, 2021.
Broadstone Acquisition Company (Vertical Aerospace)Market Cap: US$379.7MM
UK-based Vertical Aerospace founder, Stephen Fitzpatrick, has thrust his UAM endeavor forward by forming partnerships with Microsoft, Honeywell, Virgin Atlantic, Solvay, Avolon, and Rolls-Royce, among others. The company projects type certification by 2024. Its VA-X4 will then rapidly scale into “high-scale production.” The company will be listed on NYSE under the ticker EVTL.
BLADE Market Cap: US$84.7MM
New York City-based BLADE (Nasdaq: BLDE) is targeting metro markets, aiming to ferry passengers from JFK or LGA airports to Manhattan in about five minutes.
Capable of taking well-heeled travelers from NYC airports into Manhattan, BLADE is already selling one-way tickets starting at US$295 and season passes at US$965.
The company is preparing for the adoption of electric vertical aircraft that will be quiet and carbon neutral.
Astro Aerospace Ltd. Market Cap: US$11.0MM
Lewisville, Texas-based Astro Aerospace is developing its eVTOL, Elroy, (it seems there’s a Jetson’s theme going on here).
Currently capable of a 25-minute flight time at a maximum speed of 70kph (about 45 mph), Astro aims to be an affordable means of commuting to and from work.
The eVTOL is about the size of a compact car, small enough to fit in a standard parking garage parking space.
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