Roland Berger says air taxi market is ‘set to soar’

Avatar for eVTOLBy eVTOL | November 11, 2020

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 1 seconds.

By 2050, a global fleet of 160,000 eVTOL air taxis will be generating annual revenues of nearly US$90 billion, consultancy firm Roland Berger predicts in a new report.

Roland Berger air taxi
According to Roland Berger, US$907 million flowed into the UAM industry in the first six months of 2020, more than 20 times the amount invested in 2016. Roland Berger Image

The projection contained in “The high-flying industry: Urban Air Mobility takes off” is even rosier than the one Roland Berger made two years ago, when it estimated there would be 100,000 air taxis flying by 2050.

Why the increase? Roland Berger now projects that many more cities will implement urban air mobility (UAM) operations than initially expected. The firm says it has also updated its criteria and relevance for inter-city services, improved its methodology, and added new parameters which influence UAM implementation.

According to its latest report, the passenger UAM market is “set to soar. The number of UAM projects continues to rise, barriers to progress — such as regulation and public acceptance — are increasingly being overcome, and the coronavirus crisis shows no sign of causing serious delays.”

With respect to the “short-term effects” of COVID-19, the report elaborates: “Overall delays are only expected to run to about six months and are more likely to delay UAM launches than jeopardize the implementation of UAM as a whole.”

The report echoes conventional wisdom in describing an incremental development of UAM services, with initial, small-scale services targeted mostly at executive users who can afford higher prices. “As scale and experience increase, we expect a transition to a premium public transportation model, where UAM services become more and more like today’s taxi services,” the report states.

Roland Berger predicts that the passenger UAM market will grow to the $90 billion figure from around $1 billion in 2030. By 2050, the firm expects airport shuttle and inter-city services to provide 90% of revenues, with city taxis making up the rest.

“Inter-city services will have a lower number of overall flights, but will cover longer distances, generating more revenue per flight and with higher utilization,” the report explains. “Medium-distance airport shuttle services will be appealing to the business market, enabling them to charge a premium compared to city taxis.”

Noting that global commercial helicopter sales were 657 units in 2019, Roland Berger suggests that its projections for eVTOL air taxis “can be related to an up-scaled helicopter production” — still far below the volumes of the automotive industry, which had global passenger car sales of around 65 million last year.

The report highlights that the UAM market has been expanding into “an ecosystem of integrated building blocks” as commercial passenger-carrying operations move closer to becoming a reality. It identifies five such major building blocks, including eVTOL vehicles; maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services; flight operations; physical infrastructure; and digital infrastructure.

“Most industry players are positioning themselves as system providers, with an overarching business model archetype that spans the five building blocks,” Roland Berger observes, giving as an example Joby Aviation, which is not only building eVTOL aircraft but has also registered with the Federal Aviation Administration as an operator.

According to the report, this approach allows players to understand the entirety of the emerging ecosystem and react quickly to developments, as well as to compensate for supply chains that are not yet fully established. This model is likely to persist into the future, “albeit in a less vertically integrated form than today,” Roland Berger suggests.

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4 Comments

  1. Сам конструктор в нынешних природных
    Условиях готов пользоваться этим транспортом ?.

  2. The problem is. There are not enough companies that have the capacity or special equipment to build these. It can take 6months to 1.5yrs to build the mfg equipment alone and let’s not get started on the building space and permits which can take 1 to 5 years to accomplish depending on which state in the US you settle on. California is the worst, btw. Forecasts are great. But, reality is a far different thing. Cut Roland’s number in half at least.

  3. Remember the hype when PanAm began their helicopter air taxi? Same kind of outrageous predictions which never came to be.

  4. I did some calculations on this myself and came to the conclusion that Roland Bergers numbers are out by approximately a factor or 100 in either direction.

    Attempting to quantify a new mode of transport by displacing existing ones is a fools errand. What proportion of current car journeys were made on foot or by horse. If you look at actual passenger miles graphs what you see is that new forms of transport generally create new journeys and take a relatively small proportion of journeys away from existing modes.

    As a more basic question ask, if I could get 100 miles away from where I sit in less than 1 hour what would it alloy me to do. Go to the beach, go skiing, climb a mountain, visit a good restaurant, swim in a lake all may be possible for a no planning day trip or maybe after work.

    Second question is how cheap would an eVTOL be able operate, my guesstimate would be ~$120/ph with a pilot more like $40/ph without. This is once they are being produced at volume. So for a 4 seater that cost is in the region of $10-30 per person to make that 1 hour 1 mile flight.

    At those sorts of costs I could see my self making maybe 1 flight a week. If I am typical that is a massive market.

    What is more illustrative would be to simply say what if the globe spent 1% of its income on eVTOL flight, against expected income in 2050 that would be a market of about 15 million eVTOL in service and 1 million produced a year.

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