Business / Companies

Chinese drone maker spreads wings in Latin America

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-08-01 14:00

Chinese drone maker spreads wings in Latin America

A camera-equipped "Inspire 1" unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, of DJI Technology Co hovers during a test in Shanghai, China, Jan 10, 2015. [Photo/IC]

BEIJING - From fighting forced labor to surveying Inca relics, Chinese unmanned aircraft are tapping an emerging market for consumer drones in Latin America.

China's top civilian drone maker, DJI, saw sales surge in the region based on demand from fun-seeking members of the public as well as firms and public services, Wang Fan, the company's public relations director, told Xinhua.

In June and July, DJI's sales in Latin America tripled from a year earlier to reach tens of millions of yuan, Wang said, without a precise value.

Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay were the company's biggest customers.

The growth in Latin America was another proof of the drone maker's increasing popularity overseas.

In the latest case, Brazil's Labor Ministry said last week it will use six Inspire 1 drones made by DJI to monitor properties suspected of using forced laborers in Rio de Janeiro.

The Inspire 1 drones have powerful cameras that can shoot 360-degree videos and transmit them real-time to smartphones or tablet computers.

"We've just started in Brazil, but there's no doubt it's one of the most important markets in South America due to its huge consumer base," Wang said.

In another case, DJI drones have been used by cultural officials and archeologists in Peru to complete 3D surveying and mapping of over 12,000 Inca ruin sites.

Wang noted fast growth in orders from public service institutions in Latin America, expressing optimism about the company's future expansion in the region.

As a global leader in making drones for aerial photography and videography, the Shenzhen-based DJI holds a global market share of about 70 percent. About 80 percent of DJI's revenue comes from abroad.

Most orders are from Europe, North America and Japan.

The firm's best-sellers in Latin America are the Phantom series, ready to fly and priced between 6,000 and 8,000 yuan. There were also increasing orders for Inspire 1, sold at nearly 20,000 yuan in China.

DJI has also provided drones for customers in film, advertising, construction, firefighting, farming and many other industries, Wang said.

Founded in 2006, the company sells products to over 100 countries and has offices in Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, the United States and the Netherlands, with more than 3,000 employees globally.

China exported 160,000 civilian drones worth 750 million yuan from January to May this year, 69 and 55 times the sales of the same period in 2014 respectively. Almost all the total came from the southern city of Shenzhen.

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