Will 2020 be the year of drone taxis? I’m going to peg it on ‘unlikely.’
Drone taxi company EHang, which made its debut on the stock market in December 2019 with a public offering price of $12.50 per share, opened on its first trading day of 2020 in the $10 realm.
But $10 might not be too shabby. While EHang stock hit as high as $13.70 per share, it has also dipped as low as $7.84 in the short timespan that it’s been on the public market. That gives the company a market cap of around $331 million.
The company initially filed to raise an ambitious $100 million in an IPO, with reports in spring 2019 suggesting it could raise as much as $400 to $500 million. The company only raised $43 million in its IPO, and investors mostly remain hesitant as the company is unprofitable. Plus, EHang’s revenue declined in 2019 from 2018.
EHang has pivoted a bit in the drone industry (hey, many companies have). The company briefly made consumer-grade drones. Though, I reviewed one, the GhostDrone 2.0 VR back in 2016, and strongly disliked it, as I found it a worst-of-both-worlds combo of gimmicky and tough to use.
Later, the company tried to tap into Intel’s successes with drone light shows. But their (mis)step into drones as entertainment didn’t go as planned. Ehang in 2018 intended to (and did briefly) break Intel’s record for largest drone light show display. But the show was largely classified as a disaster, as signal interference caused some drones to break from the formation, and some even fell out of the sky. (Intel has since taken back its record.)
Now, the company is positioning itself pretty much entirely as a passenger drone transport company.
During the “Urban Air Mobility” even in Vienna, Austria, in April 2019, EHang and Austrian-based aerospace company FACC said they had plans to produce 300 Taxi drones by 2020.
“Our mission is to make safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone,” EHang said in a prepared statement. “EHang provides customers in various industries with AAV products and commercial solutions for urban air mobility, including autonomous passenger transportation and logistics, smart city management, and aerial media solutions.”
In fact, EHang was the company behind the publicity stunt back in 2017 when Dubai’s transportation agency chief said that human-ferrying drones would begin transporting people across the city by that summer. The drone was supposedly able to carry a person and/or their luggage for a combined total weight of 100 kilos (220 pounds). Ehang said their drone would have four rotors (though they now have an octocopter model), span 13 feet wide and be able to fly just over 30 miles at speeds of 100 miles per hour.
Of course, it’s now 2020 and you still cannot just ring up a drone on your phone to drive you around Dubai.
Did you invest in EHang stock? Would you consider it? Tell us why or why not in the comments!