Roland Berger has released its latest study about Urban Air Mobility, which estimates that about 160,000 commercial air taxis will be operational in skies above the world’s cities by 2050.

The report, which was released earlier this week, also predicts the segment of manned Urban Air Mobility, or expansion of urban transport systems into the airspace, to reach an annual market potential of $90 billion by 2050. Dynamic growth is expected between 2030 and 2050.

And despite the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy, it seems the Urban Air Mobility market has come out largely unscathed. In the first half of 2020, more than $900 million was invested by startups in the sector – an increase of more than twenty fold when compared to the whole of 2016, when just $40 million was reported.

There are already more than 100 projects focusing on manned Urban Air Mobility in cities across the world, with half of these based in Europe. Notable examples include Paris – where Volocopter plan to conduct flight testing of its VoloCity eVTOL aircraft – Ingolstadt in Germany, and Linz, Austria – where EHang plans to conduct an Urban Air Mobility trial of its flagship 216 autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV).

In order to generate valid figures on future development, the authors of the study collected data from 1,200 major cities and cumulated them into four business model archetypes.

They concluded that three different areas of application can be identified for the future: City Taxis with a range of 15 to 50 kilometers, Airport Shuttles with the same range and Inter City flights that can cover distances of up to 250 kilometers. The industry is therefore likely to specialise in roughly equal parts in the production of three different types (36% City Taxi, 35% Airport Shuttle, 29% Inter City). 

Dr Stephan Baur, Principal at Roland Berger, says there are currently two developments which are giving the industry a boost.

“Public acceptance of the technology is growing with every test flight and the regulatory authorities in Europe and the US are now dealing with the issue so seriously that legal hurdles can be overcome in the foreseeable future.”

Manfred Hader, Partner at Roland Berger, added: “Companies that produce cars, planes or helicopters today, as well as newcomers, can tap into a large market if they position themselves accordingly in the coming years.

“By 2050, Airport Shuttle and Inter City services together will take the lion’s share, about 90% of revenues. As a result, we expect a transition to a premium model of public transport in which UAM services will become increasingly similar to today’s taxi services”.

Baur concluded that not only air taxi manufacturers will get a piece of the 90-billion-dollar pie. As an entire ecosystem around Urban Air Mobility continues to grow, the market will become more disparate and lead to a number of different business models in various sectors.

“It goes far beyond the pure air taxi – the market is growing alongside the infrastructure, which includes airfields, services, flight operations, ticket brokerage and repairs,” he said.

“At the moment we assume that air taxi manufacturers – similar to the automotive industry – will initially dominate the market. In any case, companies must clearly position themselves in this new ecosystem.”

To download a copy. of the study, visit https://www.rolandberger.com/en/Publications/The-high-flying-industry-Urban-Air-Mobility-takes-off.html