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The flying taxi is about to become a reality: are you ready?

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The next two years could become for the vehicle market what the introduction of the smart phone was for mobile phones. A multitude of new technologies and software are being developed that will change the way we use cars – or transport in general – over the next two years.

At this year’s CES in Las Vegas, previously called the Consumer Electronics Show, some of the most interesting innovations were in electric vehicles that can take off and land vertically (eVOLT). They are designed to be used as air taxis for four to eight people and are now only about a year or two away from being put into commercial production.

It would be a stretch to call them cars; they look more like a hybrid between a car and a drone, and while technologies differ from producer to producer, what they have in common is that they can take off and land like a helicopter, are powered by electric batteries and emit zero emissions.

One example is Joby Aviation NYSE:JOBY, a Silicon Valley startup, working on what might best be described as a flying SUV. The vehicle can accommodate a pilot/driver and up to four passengers, is powered by lithium-ion batteries and can move at up to 200 miles per hour. Its range is 150 miles on a single charge. Joby test flew its air taxi over New York in November and after the flight the city’s mayor announced plans to electrify the city’s heliport.

Another interesting company is Joby’s German competitor Lilium NASDAQ:LILM which also plans to be ready with its eVTO for commercial passengers by 2005. Lilium’s “SUV” is designed to carry seven passengers in total, together with the pilot.

Not one to be left behind, China is pushing ahead with its own eVTOL development. Chinese company Xpeng is [NYSE:XPEV) the closest to commercial sales of its eVTOLs. At the start of the year the company announced that it will start taking orders for its radical six-wheeled off-road truck, equipped with a modular ‘flying car’, later this year and begin delivering to customers in 2025.

Interestingly enough, all of these stocks have lost value over the last six months, primarily because there is a lot of uncertainty about the actual date when the technology will become commercially viable and the amount of financing it will still take before it gets there.


eVTOL momentum is palpable

Lilium stock, for instance, is down 34% over the last 12 months. But the momentum towards eVTOL commercialisation is palpable, not only at the company level but also in their collaboration with outside players such as major cities in building an electric infrastructure to support their wider uptake.

For the adventurous investor this could be a good spot to go in and grab a share with a huge upside potential. A more risk averse option is to focus on the electric battery chain, on companies that will be essential for keeping these electric vehicles in the air, no matter which label they will be.

Battery raw material makers, battery manufacturers and emerging technologies and enablers are all part of the value chain and will benefit directly from all the accompanying development such as the construction of veriports, landing pads for our flying taxes and charging infrastructure.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Make sure you do your own research or consult a professional advisor.

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