Low Altitude Economy Takes Flight: These 10 Innovative Enterprises Reach for the Sky

Industrials Author: EqualOcean News, Jiahui Liao Editor: Yiru Qian Apr 30, 2024 05:15 PM (GMT+8)

In the not-so-distant future, aerial "flying" may become a reality.

EHang Launches First-Ever Autonomous Aerial Vehicl

In the 2024 Government Work Report, it was mentioned to "accelerate the development of cutting-edge emerging industries such as hydrogen energy, new materials, and innovative pharmaceuticals, actively build new growth engines such as bio-manufacturing, commercial aerospace, and low-altitude economy." This marks the first appearance of the term "low-altitude economy" in a government work report, sparking widespread attention. Representing a set of strategic emerging industries competing globally, low-altitude economy and related industries are playing a significant role in creating new productive forces and promoting high-quality economic development.

The low-altitude economy refers to comprehensive economic forms within the airspace range below 1000 meters vertically, extending as needed to not more than 3000 meters, utilizing vertical take-off and landing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles as carriers. It encompasses various low-altitude flight activities such as passenger transport, cargo transport, and other operational scenarios, driving the integrated development of related fields. The low-altitude economy industry chain includes low-altitude manufacturing, low-altitude flight, low-altitude support, and comprehensive services. Ground-based infrastructure forms the upstream, serving as the crucial carrier for various low-altitude economic activities, with general airports currently being the main infrastructure. Aircraft manufacturing constitutes the midstream, including drones, helicopters, and eVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft. Currently, the eVTOL market presents a differentiated competitive trend. Downstream activities encompass various application scenarios, including low-altitude logistics, agriculture, inspections, and flight services. Thus, concepts such as "air taxis," "low-altitude tourism," and "flying cars" all fall under the umbrella of the low-altitude economy.

According to data released by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the low-altitude economy market is expected to reach 1.5 trillion yuan by 2025 and is projected to reach 3.5 trillion yuan by 2035, becoming a well-deserved blue ocean track. Presently, three main types of enterprises are focusing on this new track: first, leading companies in the drone industry, with DJI being a prime example; second, companies with aviation backgrounds such as EHang and Volocopter; third, large aircraft and automotive manufacturers such as Volkswagen, XPeng, and Geely. As of now, the development of the low-altitude economy industry is still in its early stages, and gaining a deeper understanding of the players entering this field may be our first step.


DJI, founded in Shenzhen in 2006, is a brand specializing in drone manufacturing, covering various fields such as consumer drones, professional drones, and recreational drones, providing users with more intelligent and convenient drone products. On April 11 of this year, DJI officially launched the new generation first-person view drone DJI Avata 2, DJI FPV Goggles V3, and DJI Motion Controller V3, which, when used together, can achieve comprehensive improvements in flight, imaging, safety, and endurance performance. Previously, DJI completed four rounds of financing in 2013, 2015, and 2018, with investments from HONGSHAN, LightHouse, and Maison Capital. Recently, DJI's automotive division has received clear investment intentions from BYD and FAW, with prospects for collaboration.

With its technological strength and market influence, DJI has experienced rapid overseas expansion. It is known that DJI drones have been deployed in at least seven countries for various purposes including public announcements, transportation, and temperature measurements. Despite the U.S. imposing a ban on Chinese-manufactured drones in 2019, citing "threats to national information security" and prohibiting government agencies from procurement, DJI drones currently hold three-quarters of the market share in the U.S., widely used in agriculture, infrastructure, new energy, services, and film and television industries. DJI's position is irreplaceable globally, with its products not only favored by consumers, enterprises, and government agencies worldwide but also setting the benchmark in the drone industry.



Founded in 2017, AuoFlight Aviation Technology, headquartered in Shanghai, boasts a workforce of over 300 employees, with more than half dedicated to technical research and development. It stands as one of the earliest domestic technological enterprises to invest in large-scale eVTOL unmanned aerial vehicles. In 2021, the company successfully secured a USD 100 million Series A funding from international aviation capital.

In February of this year, AuoFlight Aviation Technology achieved a milestone as their independently developed 5-seater eVTOL aircraft, "Shengshilong," completed a successful flight. The demonstration emulated a family's journey from Shenzhen Shekou Cruise Center to Zhuhai Jiuzhou Port, reducing a ground travel time of 2.5 to 3 hours to a mere 20 minutes. This marked the world's first public demonstration flight of a cross-sea, cross-city eVTOL electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft route, covering over 100 kilometers round trip, crossing the Pearl River Estuary to connect two core cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Additionally, as a developer and manufacturer of eVTOL products, AuoFlight Aviation Technology has expanded its market reach beyond domestic sales to Europe and the Middle East.

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Established in 2015, VERTAXI, with bases in Shanghai and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, is dedicated to creating high-security, cost-effective, and environmentally intelligent eVTOL aircraft. Their vision of "accessible aerial travel for everyone" aims to provide solutions for future urban three-dimensional transportation. At its inception, the company received angel investment from Mr. Chen Danian, founder of Shanda Network and Lian Shang Network, and subsequently secured investments from renowned institutions such as V Fund, WINREAL Investment, and SKYVIEW Fund, accumulating a total funding of CNY 150 million.

In October of last year, Future Mobility Innovator's independently developed 2-ton M1 eVTOL successfully completed its maiden flight in Shanghai, achieving full domestic production in three core areas: electric systems, flight control systems, and composite materials. Presently, the company has developed a complete series of pure electric and hybrid drones ranging from 25 kilograms to 100 kilograms up to 2 tons. Among these, the company's industrial drone brand, Fukun, saw a 300% year-on-year revenue growth in 2023.

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Xpeng Aeroht

Established in 2013, Xpeng Aeroht is currently the largest flying car company in Asia and an ecosystem enterprise of Xpeng Motors. Headquartered in Guangzhou, the company operates research centers and laboratories in Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Silicon Valley, USA. Integrating smart cars with modern aviation, Xpeng Aeroht is dedicated to creating the safest intelligent electric flying cars for individual users, aiming to provide products and solutions for urban three-dimensional transportation, personal travel, and tourism in the low-altitude domain of future cities. In October 2021, Xpeng Aeroht announced a successful Series A funding of over $500 million, with a pre-investment valuation exceeding USD 1 billion. This round of funding was led by IDG Capital, 5Y Capital, and Xpeng Motors, with follow-on investments from HONGSHAN, Eastern Bell Capital, GGV Capital, GL Ventures, and YF Fund, among other renowned institutions.

Currently, Xpeng Aeroht has developed products such as the Voyager X2 and Voyager X1, primarily to accumulate research and development, flight test data, and experience for the company's subsequent mass-produced products. Moving forward, Xpeng Aeroht will focus on the consumer end, marking a crucial step in its commercialization process.



EHang Intelligent Technology, established in 2014 and headquartered in Guangzhou, is a leading global enterprise in intelligent autonomous aerial vehicle technology. In 2019, EHang Intelligent Technology successfully went public on the NASDAQ Global Stock Market, becoming the first publicly traded company in the global urban air mobility industry. Presently, EHang Intelligent Technology's unmanned manned aerial vehicles have completed multiple flight demonstrations worldwide, spanning across Asia, Europe, and North America, including countries such as China, the United States, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, and Qatar, leading the global development of urban air transport.

On April 7th, the Civil Aviation Administration of China's Central and Southern Regional Administration issued the world's first production permit (PC) for unmanned manned aerial vehicles to EHang Intelligent Technology, signifying that the company's EH216-S is qualified for mass production. EH216-S has now become the first in the eVTOL industry to obtain the three certifications for airworthiness approval: in October and December of 2023, EHang successively obtained the industry's first type certificate (TC) and the first standard airworthiness certificate (AC), qualifying the company for market entry. The issuance of the PC further accelerates EHang's formation of a commercial ecosystem.



TCab, established in 2021 and headquartered in Shanghai, focuses on the research, production, and sales of manned eVTOLs. In its founding year, TCab completed two rounds of financing within a month, raising tens of millions of dollars. The seed round investment came from BlueRun Ventures, and the seed+ round investment from Decent Capital. In February 2023, TCab announced the completion of a CNY 100 million Pre-A round of financing, led by Grand Flight, with Kunlun Capital, KIP Capital, and existing shareholders BlueRun Ventures and Decent Capital participating. Subsequently, in March of this year, TCab completed a Series A round of strategic financing worth USD 20 million.

As a domestic pioneer in the development of manned tilt-rotor eVTOLs, the company overcame numerous engineering challenges in a domestic environment lacking tilt-rotor technology, steadily advancing validation work for scaled-down models, frame aircraft, and prototypes. In October 2023, TCab's E20 eVTOL completed its first test flight, marking China's first publicly demonstrated tilt-rotor eVTOL, filling a technological gap in this field within China. While securing hundreds of intended orders from domestic operators, the company has also established deep connections with the "Belt and Road" regions such as the Middle East and Southeast Asia, steadily expanding into overseas markets.



Shenzhen Urban Transportation Planning and Design Research Center, founded in 2008, is a provider of comprehensive urban transportation solutions, engaged in the entire industry chain of urban transportation policy research, planning, design, construction, and operation management, as well as operating a data collection, decision support, construction operation, and other transportation big data business systems for governments, enterprises, and individuals. It has also developed smart city construction and operation businesses, forming the foundation for intelligent transportation businesses such as smart signals, smart parking, and vehicle networking. To date, SUTPC has completed multiple rounds of financing, with investments from Lenovo Capital, TUSHOLDINGS, and GL Ventures, among others.

As a state-owned enterprise in Shenzhen, SUTPC has begun to lay the groundwork in the low-altitude economy sector. In 2023, it jointly undertook the country's first phase of the "Shenzhen Low-Altitude Intelligent Integration Infrastructure Construction Project" with the Greater Bay Area Digital Economy Research Institute and took on the comprehensive policy consulting project for Shenzhen's low-altitude economy, establishing new avenues for business growth.



Established in 2010 and headquartered in Chengdu, JOUAV Group specializes in the research, development, production, sales, and service of industrial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) products. It is recognized as one of the leading and most competitive enterprises in the domestic industrial UAV market. Dedicated to providing customers with intelligent, platform-based, and tool-based industrial UAV systems, JOUAV Group went public on the Shanghai Stock Exchange Science and Technology Innovation Board in 2021, becoming the first domestic company primarily focused on UAV business to achieve this milestone.

In 2023, JOUAV Group introduced the next-generation "JOUAV Kunlun Unmanned Autonomous System," designed for various industry scenarios. This system enables automatic drone inspection, charging, remote deployment, remote planning and command, as well as automatic data transmission, effectively addressing pain points in current UAV industry applications. Currently, JOUAV Group offers a full spectrum of industrial UAV products and nearly a hundred industry-specific application solutions. With a market presence in 40 countries and serving over 1500 clients, JOUAV Group holds the second position in the domestic industrial UAV market and ranks fifth globally.



ZEROG, established in 2021 and headquartered in the High-Tech Zone of Hefei, has subsidiary branches in Nanjing, Shenzhen, Wuhu, and Hainan, focusing on research and development, operations, production, and test flights. It integrates technological development, engineering capabilities, and commercialization to drive the "green revolution" in aviation, making electric aircraft a part of everyday life and contributing to the early establishment of a comprehensive three-dimensional transportation system in China. In 2023, ZEROG completed a new round of strategic financing of nearly CNY 100 million, led by Nanjing Transportation Engineering Co., Ltd., with participation from Hefei Angel Fund and existing shareholder BlueRun Ventures.

In mid-March, ZEROG's subsidiary, Rui En Aircraft, signed a significant order for 22 RX1E-A electric fixed-wing aircraft with several domestic general aviation operators at the company's headquarters base. Additionally, Rui En announced a strategic cooperation and exclusive product distribution partnership with Hongshi General Aviation in the Sichuan-Chongqing region. Furthermore, ZEROG's flagship product, the RX1E-S electric fixed-wing aircraft, is capable of water takeoff and landing, making it the only electric seaplane globally certified for model use. Representing the new energy aircraft, the RX1E series serves as the core carrier for low-altitude economy, injecting new vitality into the development of electric aviation in new fields and scenarios.



Established in 2018 and affiliated with the SF Group, Fengyi Technology has been exploring the field of drone delivery for nearly a decade. As the first domestic enterprise to obtain a drone operation license, SF Fengyi Technology has gradually transitioned from rural to urban normalized operations, covering various industries such as express delivery, medical services, inspections, and mapping. Currently, in the Greater Bay Area, Fengyi's drones have achieved normalized operations, with a daily transport volume exceeding 10,000 parcels. Beyond the Pearl River Delta, Fengyi's drones have expanded from trial operations to normalized operations in several locations nationwide. In early April, the company used the ARK40 drone to complete parcel delivery in Wuxi for the first time and launched a same-city express transportation route operating seven days a week with four shifts per day.

In April of this year, Fengyi Technology officially launched two drone logistics products: same-city immediate delivery and cross-city express delivery, marking the entry of drone delivery services into commercial operation in China. As a significant component of low-altitude economy, low-altitude logistics is poised to become a new productive force driving economic growth.


Bottom Line

The race track of low-altitude economy is continuously expanding. In the future, application scenarios beyond logistics are bound to become more diverse. With the support of advanced technologies such as AI, our skies will become busier and more intelligent. We have every reason to anticipate that the low-altitude economy will become the next "Made in China" calling card.

However, despite the arrival of the low-altitude economy trend, pressures stemming from technological competition between enterprises, operational conditions, and national policies persist as this new productive force. How each enterprise can rise with the wind and fulfill their aspirations in the sky remains to be seen.