EHang to build eco-friendly vertiports in Europe, Asia

Guangzhou, CHINA – Despite looming class action lawsuits and prevaricating stocks on the market, autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) manufacturer EHang is forging bravely ahead with expansion plans, announcing a partnership with an Italian architecture company, which will see the two building a vertiport in Italy.

Since the lawsuits started, announcements from the Chinese company have been really scarce, so we figure they must really feel good about this latest partnership with the Giancarlo Zema Design Group (GZDG), which EHang say will chip in with design and other architecture solutions environmentally friendly vertiports in the European Union, starting with the pilot project in Italy.  

“With EHang’s passenger-grade AAV technologies and air mobility solutions, GZDG has designed and will build an eco-sustainable vertiport in Italy,” the company said in a statement. “The vertiport will use green design and construction materials, and can generate energy to recharge the EH216 passenger-grade AAVs.

Based in the Italian capital, Rome, the Italian architecture practice specialises in smart eco-sustainable projects, semi submerged architectural structures, floating habitats, yacht and interior design. It was founded in 2001 by the architect Giancarlo Zema and covers the entire design process, from concept to the executive details.

“Inspired by the native African tree Baobab, GZDG came up with the natural Baobab design: a 30-meter-high tower, with a steel and laminated wood structure, a waiting room, a café, a 200-square-meter panoramic restaurant and connecting lift. The take off-and-landing platform will be set on the roof terrace. The vertiport is built with non-slip photovoltaic panels that can generate over 300 kilowatts of electricity per day. The platform will have fully independent plug-and-play charging infrastructures that can be used to recharge EHang’s AAVs.”

There was no mention of when the two parties expect to start the building projects and when they expect to complete them.

The statement added that in the future, when the vertiports have been integrated into the existing transportation infrastructure, they can also serve as aerial hubs for tourists; enabling the two partners to enter the emerging global eco-tourism sector

Similar projects are being planned in Europe and Southeast Asia.

Of late, EHang have been batting on the defensive behind their crease, as the company desperately tries to fend off antitrust allegations levelled against it by a market research company called Wolfpack. The gist of the allegations – which have formed the basis of a many lawsuits against the company – is that EHang and its senior executives made misleading statements to investors and failed to disclose that: their purported regulatory approvals in Europe and North America for its EH216 were for use as just a drone, and not for carrying passengers; its relationship with its purported primary customer is a sham; EHang has only collected on a fraction of its reported sales since its American depository Share (ADS) began trading on NASDAQ in December 2019; and that the company’s manufacturing facilities were practically empty and lacked evidence of advanced manufacturing equipment or employees.

On the last allegation at least, EHang was forced to release a short video of its mega facility in Yunfu, whose construction has failed to meet deadlines because of the COVID-19-induced delays, according to the company.

EHang also released another video announcing recent successful trial flight of the EH216 passenger drone over the sea of Southern China.  The flights started from Hengqin New District and ended in Dong Ao Island in Zhuhai City, with the company proving the capabilities of its autonomous aerial technologies and air mobility solutions to investors.

The video showed no passenger in the drone during the flight.

It would be also fair to acknowledge that some quarters did come out in defence of the company, that their stocks are rebounding again, albeit slowly, following a heavy fall that succeeded the allegations.

Ehang identifies itself as “the world’s leading AAV technology platform company.”

“Our mission is to make safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone. EHang provides customers in various industries with AAV products and commercial solutions: air mobility (including passenger transportation and logistics), smart city management, and aerial media solutions. As the forerunner of cutting-edge AAV technologies and commercial solutions in the global Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industry, EHang continues to explore the boundaries of the sky to make flying technologies benefit our life in smart cities.”

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