China-based EHang said despite lockdowns across the country, the global pandemic has not impacted the eVTOL developer’s inventories for aircraft components, nor has it affected its type certification process for its EH216 with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
“There has not been a material impact on our supply chain because our suppliers are mostly in China,” Edward Xu, EHang’s chief strategy officer, told shareholders during the company’s Q4 earnings call on Tuesday. “On the certification process, we think it’s still on the right track, and so far, our special team is working very closely with CAAC experts, which has not been disrupted by the pandemic as well.”
Executives said the company is targeting type certification with Chinese aviation authorities in mid-2022 — this comes after the CAAC formally adopted the special conditions for the EH216-S type certification last month.
EHang expects to be the first in the world to launch commercial eVTOL operations — likely in the second half of the year.
“In the near future, we will release the first group of Chinese cities that will launch our commercial operational services and flight routes after we obtain the certification,” stated Huazhi Hu, EHang’s founder, chair, and chief executive officer, in remarks translated to English.
EHang said it now has more than 1,000 unfulfilled pre-orders for its aircraft models, and through its 100 Air Mobility Routes Initiative, the eVTOL developer said it has conducted more than 4,000 trial flights with its EH216 for aerial sightseeing, as well as 50 hours of flight testing with its VT-30 model.
If EHang’s plans come to fruition, the company said it will have first-mover advantage over its peers, at least in the eastern part of the world.
With its headquarters in China, Xu said the country will remain EHang’s main market, but Xu said China won’t be its only target market. EHang has already made inroads in other Asian regions, including Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia, where the company has established partnerships, conducted flight tests, or forged regulator relations.
As for the western part of the world, Xu said EHang plans to take “a more passive stance” and keep its focus on establishing its commercial operations in China first.
“We think some western countries, including Europe and the U.S., the regulations could be more conservative, so we are taking a more passive stance and we’re focused on China,” Xu said. “We believe the success in Chinese certification could be leverage for us to go into those markets.”
EHang reported RMB56.8 million (US$8.9 million) in total revenues at the end of 2021, compared with RMB180.1 million (US28.4 million) in 2020. The company attributes the decline in revenues to its decision to transition from focusing on aircraft sales to developing an urban air mobility platform.
Executives said the company is expecting revenues to increase to between RMB190 million and RMB210 million (US$29.9 million and US$33 million) this year — mostly generated in the second half of the year when it expects to launch commercial operations.
Last year, the company experienced an operating loss of RMB320.5 million (US$50.3 million), and a net loss of RMB313.9 million (US$49.3 million). As of the end of 2021, EHang reported RMB312.1 million (US$49.0 million) in cash and cash equivalents.