Air taxis and flying cars are easy to hype. We have all grown up with visions of the future that depict flying vehicles whizzing between skyscrapers. IDTechEx’s new report ‘Air Taxis: Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing Aircraft 2021-2041’ is not that hype. This independent research into electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for passenger transport reflects the reality of the eVTOL market at this early stage of its development.
IDTechEx’s new report is intended to help companies understand the exciting, emerging, urban air mobility (UAM) market. This report provides a comprehensive analysis of eVTOL aircraft for air taxi applications, from the basics of eVTOL aircraft design architectures, through to more nuanced detail on opportunities in key enabling technologies, such as aviation-grade batteries, electric motors and propulsion systems, composite materials, and eVTOL ground infrastructure.
Along with information and insight into the eVTOL air taxi market, the report contains IDTechEx’s 20-year outlook for eVTOL air taxi sales, market revenue, battery demand, and battery market revenue, with a detailed breakdown of the forecasting methodology.
IDTechEx analysis of air taxi/passenger drone operations suggests that there are frequently talked about areas for air taxi deployment which do not look viable, offering commuters no perceivable benefit at greater expense. However, IDTechEx’s research also indicates applications where eVTOL aircraft could provide a faster, more direct, and flexible journey at a lower cost than competing transport modes. It is this potential that has attracted the attention of huge companies both inside and outside the aviation industry and stirred major investment into this nascent market.
Many of the world’s largest aerospace and automotive companies are ramping up their interest in eVTOL aircraft, recognizing it as a potentially disruptive new transport mode. Incumbent OEMs like Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, and Bell have ongoing eVTOL development programs.
The major aerospace suppliers Raytheon, GE, SAFRAN, Rolls-Royce, and Honeywell, are all investing in eVTOL technologies. Composite material manufacturers like Toray and Hexcel are working with OEMs on advanced lightweight materials. The automotive industry is taking an interest as well, with Toyota, Hyundai, Geely, Stellantis, and Daimler all part of ongoing eVTOL projects.
In January 2020, Toyota invested nearly $400 million in eVTOL start-up Joby Aviation in a $590 million funding round joined by private fund manager Baillie Gifford, which famously invested early in Tesla stock at $6 per share. Baillie Gifford have also invested $35 million in German eVTOL OEM Lilium.
Aside from Joby Aviation and Lilium, there are a host of interesting eVTOL start-ups that have popped up around the world, including Volocopter, EHang, SkyDrive, Vertical Aerospace, Jaunt Air Mobility, Archer Aviation, and Beta Technologies. As the first eVTOL aircraft get closer to flight certification, interest in the market is certainly on the rise.
The report contains detail on the reaction of incumbent OEMs and suppliers to this developing market, along with background into ongoing eVTOL development projects for passenger transportation. Journey time analysis for various air taxi applications is presented, as well as an investigation of the total cost of operation of eVTOL air taxi services, with comparison against current helicopter operating costs.
There are opportunities for companies across numerous technologies. The demanding requirements of electric-powered flight offer a promising market for developers of many cutting-edge technologies such as lithium metal batteries, advanced composites, and axial flux motors. These demands lead many to look at hybrid powertrain options with either existing turbine and piston engines or fuel cells.
Those to market first will have the opportunity to be the face of this electrifying new market as a brand leader at the technological forefront. For any company wondering whether they should investigate this market, the question is, why not? The hard work being done over the next decade could pave the way for eVTOL to have a significant role in future mobility.