On The Radar
2021 has been a year in which four leading eVTOL aircraft pioneers, seeking to bring urban air mobility to Main Street, filed lucrative flight paths via share flotations on Wall Street. Following in the footsteps of Joby, Archer, Lilium, and Vertical Aerospace, Embraer subsidiary Eve on December 21 confirmed that it intends to merge with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Zanite and seek a New York Stock Exchange listing in the second quarter of 2022. In a presentation for prospective investors, the partners spelled out what they say will set Eve apart from rivals that, at face value, appear to be significantly further advanced in their plans to bring electric aircraft into commercial service.
The fact that Embraer intends to retain its position as majority shareholder, with an 82 percent stake in the merged company, is a big part of the equation. The Brazilian aerospace group intends to back the new Eve Holding entity with the full force of its engineering, certification, manufacturing, and product support infrastructure. BAE Systems looks set to be a key partner with Jerry DeMuro, former CEO of the UK-based defense group’s U.S. business, recruited to be Eve’s co-CEO, alongside Embraer’s Andre Stein. Eve has yet to give details about the propulsion system for its eVTOL, but the inclusion of aero engines maker Rolls-Royce could be a clue.
The 52-page presentation makes the case for why being first-to-market, as its main rivals plan to be in 2024, will not exclude Eve from a big piece of the action. What remains in question is whether the wider investment community still has an appetite to commit to yet-another SPAC-backed aspirant in the massively hyped advanced air mobility sector. Of the four eVTOL start-ups that went public on Wall Street in the second half of this year, only Vertical Aerospace (which merged with Broadstone) is trading above the $10 float price (at $11.09 on December 21); Joby was trading today at $6.95, Archer at $6.37 and Germany's Lilium at $7.31. China-based EHang achieved a listing on the Nasdaq exchange way back in December 2019, and today its stock was trading at $15.39, which is well below its zenith of just under $130.