Flying taxi pioneer Volocopter wants to be Tesla of the skies
Air-taxi pioneer Volocopter GmbH said it expects to remain independent until after its first commercial flights in 2024 despite regular interest from potential suitors, with a stock market listing likely the following year.
Commencing passenger services in time for the Paris Olympics could hand the German startup a lead over rivals and help give it a valuation of €10 billion ($10.2 billion) or more, according to Chief Executive Officer Dirk Hoke.
“Our shareholders invested with the target of an IPO," Hoke said at the launch of a so-called vertiport near Paris, where trials will be conducted before the games. “We believe we can be a double-digit billion-euro company."
Volocopter has eschewed a listing even though many of its closest rivals have gone down that path, with Britain’s Vertical Aerospace Ltd. and fellow German startup Lilium NV among a clutch of flying taxi companies to trade on New York’s Nasdaq exchange following mergers with blank-check companies.
Hoke said that Volocopter, which has so far raised cash solely through a series of funding rounds, is viewed as attractive by suitors seeking an easy way into a market that could become one of the most lucrative in aviation should it proliferate as forecast.
“We always get approached," the CEO said. “For the moment we prefer to be independent. We want to have agility and we want to bring models into the market."
Chief Commercial Officer Christian Bauer, a former Daimler executive, said Volocopter will also be able to tap the potential of eVTOLs to be as revolutionary as Tesla Inc. cars once their size increases.
“Tesla started with a two-seater because the battery technology wasn’t there and now they are the most valuable car brand in the world," he said. “That’s where we want to go. "
Launch financing at Volocopter, which has almost 700 staff, has surpassed €500 million and the company is still raising cash, tapping $182 million from Saudi Arabia’s Neom, which is building a futuristic city on the Red Sea, and a fund backed by Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.
“The best time for the IPO will be when we have the commercial license, when we have the first revenues, when we have the first profitability," Bauer said. No venue has yet been picked, and the timing will depend on market conditions, though could be held as soon as 2025, he said.