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The trillion-dollar industrial scale track is poised to take off

Financing China 2024/03/25 13:20

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Reading guideTHECAPITALFinancing China, a trillion-dollar industrial scale track, is poised to take offDrones are accelerating into thousands of industries.

This article is 2492 words, about 3.6 minutes

Author | An Yufei Editor | Yue Yanan

Source | Venture Capital Exchange

The annual event of the global drone industry is about to be held in Shenzhen!

On March 23, the Organizing Committee of the "2024 8th World UAV Conference and 2024 International Low-altitude Economy and Unmanned Systems Expo and the 9th Shenzhen International UAV Exhibition" held a press conference to announce that the "2024 8th World UAV Conference and 2024 International Low-altitude Economy and Unmanned Systems Expo and the 9th Shenzhen International UAV Exhibition" with the theme of "Low-altitude Economy, the Future Has Come" will be held in Shenzhen, the capital of UAVs, from May 24 to May 26.

According to reports, the conference is expected to have more than 10,000 industry experts, scholars and entrepreneurs from more than 110 countries and regions to participate in the conference, focusing on UAVs and low-altitude economy, low-altitude digital transportation, low-altitude flight services, eVTOL technology innovation and application, artificial intelligence robots, low-altitude flying cars and other topics, set up more than 30 parallel forums and more than 60 product technology exchange meetings.


The low-altitude economy has become a new track

The scale of the industry will exceed one trillion yuan

In 2024, the "low-altitude economy" will be written into the government work report for the first time, and the report proposes: "Actively build new growth engines such as biomanufacturing, commercial aerospace, and low-altitude economy." ”

It is understood that the low-altitude economic industry is a comprehensive industrial form that is driven by low-altitude flight activities and radiated to drive the integrated development of related fields, including low-altitude aircraft manufacturing, low-altitude infrastructure construction, low-altitude operation services, and low-altitude flight support.

In recent years, UAVs, as the leading industry of the low-altitude economy, have achieved an average annual growth rate of more than 20% in the market, and are becoming a new growth point of the national economy. Shenzhen, as a pilot city for low-altitude economic development, has taken the lead in the construction of low-altitude infrastructure, and has successively issued a number of industrial plans and local regulations such as the "Implementation Plan for the Innovation and Development of Low-altitude Economic Industry in Shenzhen (2022-2025)" and the "Regulations on the Promotion of Low-altitude Economic Industry in Shenzhen Special Economic Zone".

At this press conference, some guests said that the next 10 to 20 years is the golden period of UAV development, UAV market demand is expanding day by day, high-tech breakthroughs, contains huge development space.

On February 28 this year, the Information Office of the State Council held a press conference on the high-quality development of transportation and the service of Chinese-style modernization. Han Jun, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, introduced at the meeting that according to the calculations of some research units, the scale of China's low-altitude economy will exceed 500 billion yuan in 2023 and is expected to reach 2 trillion yuan in 2030.


eVTOL has become the new blue ocean

Commercialization accelerated

At present, eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft) has become a new star in the development of low-altitude economy, and is rapidly advancing commercialization. Today, highly developed railway and civil aviation systems basically solve the needs of long-distance inter-city passenger and freight transportation, but within cities, between urban and rural areas, or between cities, people are looking for safer, more efficient, more convenient and environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

In recent years, eVTOL is expected to rapidly promote the commercialization of air mobility as an emerging means of transportation. At the same time, with the gradual improvement of domestic air traffic management system and airworthiness management regulations, a number of domestic eVTOL companies have risen rapidly, and more than a dozen eVTOL products such as EHang, Xiaopeng, Fengfei, Wofei and Shi have been launched and tested, and their application prospects are broad, in addition to integrating into the ground transportation system, they can also be widely used in emergency rescue and other aspects.

According to reports, at the "Low-altitude Economy and UAV Exhibition", which will open in May, the products of some enterprises will be unveiled and participate in the international unmanned aerial vehicle low-altitude flight show. Some experts said that urban air mobility (UAM) is one of the important landing scenarios of eVTOL in the future, and China will be the world's largest urban air mobility market, and it is expected that the Chinese market will account for 20%-25% of the global eVTOL market size by 2040.

With the continuous advancement of China's new urbanization construction, people's requirements for travel efficiency and experience continue to increase, and eVTOL will play an important role in solving urban traffic congestion and shortening travel time. At the same time, eVTOL also has broad application prospects in emergency rescue, medical emergency, logistics and transportation. According to Morgan Stanley, the global eVTOL market will reach $61.9 billion in 2026 and $1.5 trillion in 2040.

In terms of investment and financing in the primary market, as an emerging industry, eVTOL has little capital in the early stage of development. According to IT orange data, from 2014, when EHang received millions of yuan in angel round financing, to 2021, there have only been a total of 3 investment and financing events in the eVTOL field in the past 7 years, and all of them are EHang. Since the beginning of 2021, eVTOL investment has ushered in a small peak, with a total of 21 investment and financing events occurring from 2021 to 2023.

Some investors said that before the first half of 2021, the number of investors who have heard about this direction may not exceed 50. From the second half of 2021, investment in the eVTOL space began to heat up.

On the new track of eVTOL, funds have not yet "flocked in". Industry insiders said that although the future market prospects of eVTOL are broad, it is not so easy to achieve "commercial take-off". There are two main reasons for this: technology and application.

At the technical level, as an emerging industry, eVTOL still has a long way to go in terms of maturity and security at many technical levels. For example, the upstream and downstream industry chain supporting eVTOL has not yet developed, and although the internal battery system, flight control system, power system and other parts can benefit from the electric vehicle industry chain, they cannot be "used out of the box". Taking batteries as an example, eVTOL energy consumption is higher than that of electric vehicles, and the support time of batteries designed according to electric vehicle standards is greatly shortened, which has the problem of insufficient battery energy, which restricts eVTOL to commercialization.

At the application level, there is no clear large-scale application scenario for eVTOL. Although many cities are exploring application scenarios such as intercity commuting and scenic tourism, the market demand and scale have not risen. The person in charge of a listed company in the field of helicopters said in an interview with a reporter from the Securities Times that the price of the company's air tourism products in scenic spots is about 800 yuan, which is too high for ordinary consumers, just to "make a shout". Whether it can be successfully commercialized is the key for eVTOL companies to get rid of relying on external funds for blood transfusion and achieve independent hematopoiesis.


Drones are accelerating into thousands of industries

The annual output value exceeds 152 billion yuan

Yang Jincai, chairman of the World UAV Conference, academician of the European Academy of Sciences, and founding president of the Shenzhen UAV Industry Association, said that UAVs have become an important support for the development of low-altitude economy. Vigorously promoting the development of low-altitude economy is not only conducive to expanding market space, but also the internal demand for promoting high-quality development.

"The low-altitude economy not only inherits the traditional general aviation format, but also integrates the new low-altitude production and service mode supported by UAVs, relying on informatization and digital management technology to empower, forming a comprehensive economic form with great vitality and creativity to accommodate and promote the coordinated development of multiple fields." Yang Jincai said.

At present, UAVs are used in emergency rescue, logistics and transportation, agriculture and forestry plant protection, power inspection, forest environmental protection, disaster prevention and mitigation, geology and meteorology, urban planning and management and other industries, with huge growth space, and the low-altitude economy represented by UAVs is also becoming a new engine for social and economic growth.

According to the data provided at this press conference, by the end of 2023, there will be more than 18,000 drone operating enterprises in the country, with an annual output value of 152 billion yuan, a total of 1.01 million registered drones, an increase of 60.9% over 2022, and a total flight time of about 20 million hours. Among them, Shenzhen has more than 1,730 UAV enterprises, with an output value of 96 billion yuan.

With the rapid development of Internet of Things technology, unmanned system products have provided services for the industrial chain of sea, land and air space integration. Unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned vehicles, unmanned ships, robots, etc. work closely together to give full play to their respective advantages and learn from each other's strengths. Today, China has formed a new supply chain system represented by drones and unmanned vehicles, and with the further development of Internet technology, the Internet of Things will gradually integrate people's production and life with unmanned system products more closely.

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