In our previous articles, we’ve focused on a relatively small list of eVTOL companies. While we don’t have the space here to discuss the whole industry, it’s worth expanding our horizons a bit more.
Below we’ll look at a list of eVTOL companies to watch. These cover UAM, long-range travel, and logistics, so keep an eye out for these eVTOL launching in the next few years.
List of eVTOL Companies to Watch in 2023
Where better to start our list of eVTOL companies than with California-based Joby Aviation. This company is one of the biggest players in the game, as evidenced by its track record. Not only has Joby received military airworthiness in the US but it also launched its IPO in late 2020.
Joby Aviation’s S-4 is a medium-range, piloted eVTOL. It can hold 4 passengers, has a range of 150 miles and a cruise speed of 200mph. Joby is currently working on FAA approval and believes it’ll have a commercial model by 2024.
Another big name on the list of eVTOL companies is Volocopter. Based in Germany, it’s the European equivalent to Joby in terms of size. However, Volocopter’s main market is UAM, as we discuss in a different article.
Its main product, the VoloCity, has a range of 22 miles and a cruise speed of 68mph. Unlike the S-4, it’s fully autonomous but can only carry 2 passengers at a time.
You can check out this video for a tour of the VoloCity, the company’s urban air mobility eVTOL.
Rounding out the “big 3” is Chinese firm EHang. Its products are about as varied as they could possibly be. Its air taxi, the EH216, has a cruise speed of 80mph and a range of 22 miles with a maximum payload.
But it’s adapted its base platform for numerous uses. For example, the EH216 has received certification in China to operate as a fire-fighting drone and for transporting medical supplies. EHang also hopes to be involved in the Paris Olympics in some capacity.
Back in Europe, we have UK-based Vertical Aerospace. Like Joby, it’s focusing on a longer-range eVTOL. Its VA-1X has a range of 100 miles with a cruise speed of 150mph.
In 2020, Vertical Aerospace won funding from the UK government to push its technology forward. Part of this will go towards improving battery technology, which it plans to finish by October 2023. Despite lacking a physical prototype, VA hopes to be on the market by 2024.
Urban Aeronautics is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, and has quite a different eVTOL concept. Unlike others on this list of eVTOL companies, it has no wings and its propellers are hidden in the body.
The CityHawk, its eVTOL, is unsurprisingly an urban model. Its range is 93 miles with a speed of 145mph. It has a hybrid powertrain with hydrogen fuel cells to improve range. In mid-2020, Urban Aeronautics signed a deal with American Hatzolah Air to produce medical eVTOLs.
Having combustion engines onboard hydrogen-filled blimps didn’t up too well, right? Well, Flying Wales have solved the problem by using electric engines (and helium).
Its eVTOL looks counter-intuitive, but it could solve numerous logistics problems. The massive balloon will be able to travel upwards of 60mph with 60 tons of payload! The company believes it’ll work best for transporting to cargo ships or moving materials to/from remote locations.
Lilium is another Germany-based entry on this list of eVTOL companies. Its Lilium Jet sits in the medium-range bracket but has a better range than its competitors. The Jet has a range of 186 miles with a cruise speed of 186mph.
It looks very much like a “normal” plane with wings (but no tail). The rotors are hidden in its wings, powered by 36 motors and a massive lithium-ion battery. The Lilium Jet will carry 4 passengers and a pilot and plans to launch in 2025. Like Joby, Lilium has already launched its IPO.
The Sabrewing Rhaegal RG-1 is another plane-looking eVTOL. For an electric aircraft, its maximum payload is impressive but is nothing compared to the Flying Whales. It’ll carry up to 5,400lbs. for 1000 miles at speeds of 22mph.
But its main advantage over the competition is its claim to fly in all weathers. As we’ve discussed elsewhere, this is a major barrier for most eVTOL designs, so it could give Sabrewing a massive leg up. Unfortunately, it hasn’t explained how it’ll do this, yet.
USA-based Beta Technologies has one of the most reputable contracts on this list of eVTOL companies. It’s already signed a deal with logistics giant UPS to produce a fleet of drones. The first will enter service in 2024 and, by the end of the order, UPS could have as many as 150.
But these are just “simple” drones. Beta also has the Alia-250c, a piloted logistics eVTOL with a maximum payload of 6,999lbs and a range of 250 miles. The wing and rotor design is quite different to other eVTOLs and was apparently inspired by the Arctic tern.
Who Will Win the eVTOL Race?
You probably noticed plenty of potential launch dates in this list of eVTOL companies. Based on these, the “winners” of the race could be EHang, Joby, or Volocopter.
But, it’s worth noting that not all companies are competing for the same spot, and likely won’t all be certified in the same countries. For example, EHang may find it harder to get certified in Europe and the US than Joby or Volocopter.
As such, it’s probably not worth looking for a single winner. Instead, we should prepare ourselves for the coming explosion of eVTOL technology that’ll happen by the end of the 2020s.
If most entries on this list of eVTOL companies plan to launch by the mid-2020s, the end of the decade will be a completely different landscape from what it is now.