EHang is already there. Joby Aviation will soon be hitting the aisle. So it’s no wonder that speculation about Volocopter that the company could go public has recently increased. The whole thing sounds too tempting. Because with the help of a so-called Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), i.e. an already listed company shell, the path to the capital markets and fresh capital would be comparatively short. Capital that could be useful in the competition between the big players in the developing passenger drone market. What’s wrong with the rumors? We wanted to know from Christian Bauer, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of Volocopter.
Drones: There have been some rumors recently, certainly fueled by plans by German competitor Lilium, that Volocopter would also be dealing with a SPAC IPO. Is that true?
Christian Bauer: We know the rumors in the market, of course, but we do not allow ourselves to be speculated. We are in good shape with our latest Series D financing round of over 200 million euros and are fully focused on our mission to make Urban Air Mobility come true.
But isn’t an IPO even necessary in order to be able to keep up with the international competition between manufacturers of passenger drones or to maintain a leading role?
No, an IPO is not necessary. There are many roads to success, as our Series D funding round shows. Of course, financial resources are necessary in order to be able to implement our flight and transport services soon – no question about it. The decisive factor, however, is the technology, the certification process, and the team behind it in order to enter the air taxi market, not just the financing. We are doing very well with our design organization approval from EASA. As for funding, there is more than one way to fund a leading company. We are constantly checking all financing options in order to bring air taxi services into the world safely and quickly with Volocopter.
In your recently presented white paper “The Roadmap to Scalable Urban Air Mobility” you describe the effort that you believe will have to be made to develop a future UAM ecosystem. Couldn’t an IPO be necessary for this in order to generate the necessary financial resources and to actually be able to implement the measures listed in the white paper?
No, this is not necessary to bring our UAM ecosystem to life, because the ecosystem lives through partnerships. In fact, we are already showing this with our partners DB Schenker for the VoloDrone), Lufthansa Industry Solutions on the subject of VoloIQ, and SkyPorts for our VoloPorts. To name just a few. We have established extensive collaborations with experts, cities, and regulatory authorities to work together on making urban air mobility a reality. It takes more than one company to introduce this new form of transportation, and we have a head start in strategic partnerships for the development of our vehicle and ecosystem necessary to provide a successful service offering.
Speaking of a successful offer. At the end of 2020, Volocopter initiated the approval process for the velocity in the USA. In what time frame do you expect a decision to be made and how important is the US market for Volocopter’s global growth strategy?
With this approval step, which is carried out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), we have the opportunity to use our technology at the same time both at EASA in Europe and at the FAAin the USA and its partner countries. This means that as soon as we receive approval from EASA, we will receive parallel recognition, keyword “concurrent validation”, from the FAA within a few months in order to be able to introduce our air taxi services in the USA as well. The US is a huge potential market. Take Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco, for example. All of these cities could benefit from our additional mobility offers, the VoloCity air taxi, and our VoloDrone heavy-duty drone. The US market is not that different from other cities around the world that are looking for more ways to get around.