China's Drone Market to Top US$9bn by 2020

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has published a report on the country's civilian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry, which it expects to rise 40% year on year on average to 60 billion yuan (about US$9.1 billion) by 2020. By 2025, the market value would be tripled to 180 billion yuan, the report forecasted.

China will drive global drone market. Pictured here is DJI’s ‘Phantom 3’ model.
China will drive global drone market. Pictured here is DJI’s ‘Phantom 3’ model.

The country's UAV manufacturing industry has been expanding rapidly in recent years thanks to extensive use of drones in fields such as surveying and mapping as well as rising individual consumption.
Largest among China's drone makers is Shanghai-based Da Jiang Innovations Science and Technology Company, or DJI, which according to an analysis by US-based Skylogic Research, dominates the industry with a 72% global market share for drone purchases across all price points. In North America (U.S. and Canada), it’s 62%.

U.S. scent data theft
In November, the company was accused by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau (ICE) of providing U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government, which could be used "to conduct physical or cyber-attacks against the United States and its population." In a reaction, DJI said the allegations were "profoundly wrong."
China's UAV manufacturing industry has been expanding rapidly in recent years thanks to extensive use of drones in fields such as surveying and mapping as well as rising individual consumption.

The drone industry is growing 50 percent each year
The MIIT report noted that China is playing a leading role worldwide in consumer UAV product manufacturing and in the future, "the ministry will promote national unified management of the industry, strengthen its competitive edge and help foster several leading drone manufacturers by 2020."
Globally, according to a recent report by Interact Analysis, the industry is predicted to grow on average by 50% per year over the next five years, reaching US$15bn in 2022, up from just US$1.3bn in 2016. Growth will be largely driven by two key markets - U.S. and China - and combined they will account for half of industry revenues in 2022.

Logistics is not a hot spot for drone ops
The report also pointed out that among the various commercial sectors which use drones, such as agriculture, utilities, law enforcement and property developers, delivery and logistics will grow at a fast pace but will remain one of the smallest industry verticals for UAVs in 2022.

Nol van Fenema

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