Revolution.Aero Uplift: The Charge of Deloitte Brigade
A new Deloitte report, Disrupting the future of mobility, argues that cities show a growing need for new mobility options, due to congestion and environmental protection.
Expanding access to communities, goods, and services could accelerate eVTOL use. But, unlike other rapid technological advancements, such as smartphone adoption, advancements are predicted to gradually increase scale and mass adoption. That’s why analysis of geography is key: “AAM companies should choose the right aircraft, route, and business model to facilitate faster adoption based on the anticipated demand in different markets and regions.”
Aijaz Shaik Hussain, senior research & insights leader, Deloitte and one of the report’s authors tells Revolution.Aero: “UAM can introduce a new mode of transportation, i.e., air. Certainly, on-time UAM can compete with any existing transportation mode, but the issue was always around price and safety.”
Given the exclusivity of private aviation it is hard to imagine that AAM could be significantly cheaper than even a standard taxi. But it is promising to be.
Looking at a standard 25-mile trip. For every 60 minutes travelling at 25mph in a standard taxi, the average cost is $55 and a premium taxi is $104.50, says Deloitte. However, 15 minutes travelling at 150mph in an eVTOL could cost on average $75 per seat. Which is middling on cost, but four times faster than the alternatives.
Emissions from a petrol taxi for the same trip would average out at 11.1kg Co2. A diesel taxi would come in at 9.8kg Co2. Whereas, eVTOLs promise zero operating emissions.
Aijaz believes AAM can become a transport alternative for a global audience. He says AAM operations will become a combination of exclusive and high utilisation routes. Which is which, will depend entirely on the route and demand it generates. “There could be many routes where demand is very high (intra-city) and AAM operators will have an opportunity to operate multiple fleets with full utilisation, resulting in lower operating costs and low ticket prices. The cost for the passenger will depend on the fleet number operated on a specific route and its frequency,” says Aijaz.
“But, considering the objective to beat congestion, seen mainly in intra-city routes – these trips will have a high demand to reach the destination in less time. Hence, it is more likely to generate the required demand for mass travel. However, the initial few years might be for the exclusive few until the required demand is generated,” concludes Aijaz.
According to Kirsten Bartok Touw, managing partner, Air Finance the report does a great job of describing the opportunity as well as the national security and strategic imperative that the US “should establish a comprehensive national strategy for AAM”.
However, Bartok Touw is concerned that right now is a precarious time for the US-based aerospace emerging technologies, given the lack of leadership and support at the top of the US government.
“We are not seeing the broad support for the aerospace focused electric, battery and hydrogen technologies that will be needed for AAM to succeed,” says Bartok Touw. “Just look at the scientific grants going to startups in Europe and other non-US nations. We see some AAM companies relocating to be able to access those grants or loans.”
Bartok Touw says the US Department of Energy’s ATVM (Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing) expansion and funding beyond car and light trucks to aerospace is a great example of where the US Government’s priorities are and are not. “Aerospace cannot be an afterthought, nor can we assume that technological progress in autos will be applicable to aerospace, we have different technological requirements and needs.”
Lord Tennyson’s famous poem, Charge of the Light Brigade, made for a good headline. Had he published it in this decade or the next there’s a good chance we would have to charge up the light brigade first.