Delta Air bets on electric air taxis with $60M investment in all-electric flying car startup Joby Aviation
In January 2020, we wrote about Joby Aviation after Toyota made its first big bet on electric air taxis with a $394 million investment in the all-electric flying car startup. Fast forward more than two years later, a global airline is now investing in the 13-year-old air taxi startup.
Today, Delta Air Lines announced it has acquired a 2% equity stake in Joby Aviation for $60 million. With the partnership, Delta Air will initially offer passengers air taxi transport to and from airports in New York and Los Angeles. In conjunction with the investment, the airline will also receive a board seat in Joby Aviation, Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian told reporters, adding that the total investment could be increased to as much as $200 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, windborne 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,” Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt said back in 2020.
Earlier this year, Joby said it plans to launch an air taxi service in 2024. When asked if the companies anticipated beginning service by then, Bastian did not commit to a specific date, but said: “We do have a couple years to go in terms of figuring out how to start the journey.”
In May, Joby received its Part 135 Air Carrier Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. However, the company will need additional regulatory approvals for its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, as well as for building airport infrastructure and so-called “Vertiports” in neighborhoods for takeoffs and landings before it can begin service.
In 2018, the secretive aviation startup raised $100 million for the development of the company’s air taxi prototype, which, according to a report in Bloomberg, has been conducting test flights at Joby’s private airfield in Northern California. The funding came from a variety of investors, including the venture capital arms of Intel, Toyota, and JetBlue.