Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturer EHang yesterday filed papers with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to prepare the way for an anticipated $100 million initial public offering (IPO) on Nasdaq. Late on October 31, the China-based group made an SEC F1 filing for the Cayman Islands-registered EHang Holdings Limited, giving notice of its intention to offer Class A ordinary shares from an as-yet unspecified date before the end of 2019 and secure a Nasdaq listing under the symbol EH. The IPO would make EHang the first of numerous privately-owned eVTOL startups to go public.
One factor that sets it apart from other companies vying to get ahead in a crowded sector that reportedly includes up to 200 new aircraft developments is that EHang has already started to make deliveries of its two-seat 216 Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (AAVs). According to the F1 filing, it has delivered 38 AAVs since March 2018 to various partners and prospective distributors, including freight group DHL-Sinotrans. It reported “unfulfilled orders” for 28 aircraft.
With the approval of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), EHang earlier this year began some demonstration flights in its home city of Guangzhou and various other locations in China. In February, it filed an application with CAAC for operations in support of a customer’s logistics business under the Pilot Operations Rules (Interim) for Specific Unmanned Aircraft. The company said it is hopeful of getting this approval before year-end.
In the SEC filing, EHang indicates that for now its main focus is on the Chinese market. It acknowledged that the regulatory environment for autonomous aircraft operations in the U.S. and Europe remains more complex for now.
During the first six months of 2019, EHang reported a net loss of $5.5 million, which was 42 percent higher than the loss it incurred in the same period for 2018 Revenues for the first six months of 2019 were also down by 15.6 percent at $4.7 million. The company, which was formed in December 2014, already markets a family of consumer drones and also operates drones in public displays for marketing purposes.
During 2017, EHang subsidiaries in Germany and the U.S. filed for bankruptcy and these cases are still being resolved. The company indicated that these companies traded as sales organizations for consumer drones before it decided to withdraw from the market in those countries.