Chinese flying taxi maker EHang sells autonomous passenger drone for US$332,000 on Taobao as nation’s low-altitude economy takes off

Chinese flying taxi maker EHang sells autonomous passenger drone for US$332,000 on Taobao as nation’s low-altitude economy takes off

Chinese flying taxi maker EHang sells autonomous passenger drone for US$332,000 on Taobao as nation’s low-altitude economy takes off

The ambitious domestic and international marketing campaigns show EHang’s confidence in generating strong market demand, months after its self-developed EH216-S became the world’s first recipient of a Type Certificate and Standard Airworthiness Certificate for pilotless eVTOLs. Those certifications were issued last October and December, respectively, by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

A screenshot of EHang’s EH216-S electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle that is up for sale on Alibaba Group Holding’s Taobao marketplace. Photo: Handout

“This significant achievement has had a profound impact on our business, as it has sparked a surge in demand for our remarkable EH216-S,” EHang founder, chairman and chief executive Hu Huazhi said last Friday, when the company released its latest financial results.

“The market response has been overwhelmingly positive, leading to strong quarterly and yearly revenue growth.”

EHang reported fourth-quarter revenue of 56.6 million yuan, a 260.9 per cent jump from 15.7 million yuan in the same period in 2022, on the back of an increase in orders for its EH216-series products. Total 2023 revenue reached 117.4 million yuan, up 165 per cent from 44.3 million yuan the previous year.

Sales and deliveries of the company’s EH216-series products totalled 52 units last year, compared with 21 in 2022.

Multiple EH216-S aircraft built by EHang are seen parked at a vertiport – an area that supports the landing and take-off of these types of passenger vehicles – in Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong province. Photo: Handout

After completing aircraft certification, EHang conducted EH216-S production under the supervision of CAAC representatives at the company’s factory in Yunfu, a city in Guangdong. The firm began deliveries of certified aircraft to customers in the December quarter.

EHang did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company’s shares were up 4.71 per cent to US$16.23 in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

The EH216-S, which was first announced in February 2018, has reportedly completed over 42,000 successful test flights in more than 14 countries.

The two-passenger aircraft has a top speed of 130-kilometres per hour, a cruising speed of 100km/h and a maximum altitude of 3,000 metres. It has a range of 30km and a flight time of 25 minutes.

It is built with 16 propellers, recharges its batteries in 120 minutes and provides a maximum payload of 220 kilograms. The luggage boot can accommodate an 18-inch suitcase to satisfy general commuting and short-distance travel requirements.

EHang’s EH216-S electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle is seen on display at the 2023 Indonesia International Motor Show held in Jakarta on February 23, 2023. Photo: Shutterstock

The autonomous flight capabilities, fully electric propulsion, comprehensive redundancy safety features, and intelligent command-and-control systems of the EH216-S make it an ideal solution for various urban air mobility (UAM) applications, including air taxi services, aerial tourism, airport shuttles and cross-island transport, according to EHang.

The company earlier this month forged a UAM cooperation pact with the municipal government of Wuxi, a city in eastern Jiangsu province, covering an order of 100 EH216-S units.

Last October, EHang entered into a strategic cooperation deal with the municipal government of Hefei, a city in eastern Anhui province, for joint development of a low-altitude economy ecosystem, with US$100 million in extended support that can be used to facilitate a minimum order of 100 EH216-series products.

The low-altitude economy, which is expected to be driven by the wide adoption of aircraft like eVTOLs and pilotless aerial vehicles, was identified as one of the national strategic emerging industries during the Central Economic Work Conference held in Beijing in December. About 20 provinces across the country have prioritised the development of the low-altitude economy this year, according to EHang.

That is expected to contribute between 3 trillion yuan and 5 trillion yuan to China’s economy by 2025, according to a white paper published last year by the International Digital Economy Academy in Shenzhen.

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