Toyota makes its first big bet on electric air taxis with $394M investment in all-electric flying car startup Joby Aviation
Air taxis are no longer the things you see in fiction movies. They are here to say. There are now at least ten air taxi startups out there. Just this month we wrote about Boeing’s flying taxi that launched its first successful test flight. Now Toyota seems to be joining the electric taxis’ ride. The global automaker announced its first foray int the airborne urban mobility market of the future with investment of $394 million in Joby Aviation, a California-based aerospace startup that has developed a four-passenger, battery-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.
Toyota was the lead investor in Joby’s $590 million Series C financing round. Prior investors, including SPARX Group, Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures, also contributed to the round, and were joined by new investors Baillie Gifford and Global Oryx (ALJ family’s investment arm). Shigeki Tomoyama, the Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation, will join Joby Aviation’s board of directors. This new investment brings the Company’s total funding, including previous rounds, to $720 million.
Founded in 2009 by JoeBen Bevirt, the Santa Cruz, California-based Joby Aviation’s aircraft is a piloted, five-seat vehicle capable of both vertical takeoff and landing and highly efficient, wingborne forward flight. It is capable of speeds of 200 miles per hour and can fly over 150 miles on a single charge. The aircraft is 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during takeoff and landing, and near-silent when flying overhead. The passenger experience is optimized for comfortable ride-sharing operations and efficient entry and exit.
“We are building a new system for transportation to transform your daily life, at greater safety and, in time, at a similar cost to driving,” said Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt. “This collaboration with Toyota represents an unprecedented commitment of money and resources for us and this new industry from one of the world’s leading automakers. Toyota is known globally for the quality and reliability of their products driven by meticulous attention to detail and manufacturing processes. I am excited to harness Toyota’s engineering and manufacturing prowess helping to drive us to achieve our dream of saving a billion people an hour a day.”
“Air transportation has been a long-term goal for Toyota, and while we continue our work in the automobile business, this agreement sets our sights to the sky,” said Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda. “As we take up the challenge of air transportation together with Joby, an innovator in the emerging eVTOL space, we tap the potential to revolutionize future transportation and life. Through this new and exciting endeavor, we hope to deliver freedom of movement and enjoyment to customers everywhere, on land, and now, in the sky.”