Toyota Invests $394M In A Start-Up For Flying Taxis

Toyota Invests $394M In A Start-Up For Flying Taxis

The world of the Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft has been making noise recently.

Just last week, the iconic Japanese automotive maker, Toyota Motor Corporation had announced that it put up $394M worth of investment in the company Joby Aviation. The latter is a known California-based air taxi developer. 

Joby Aviation is among the companies that have ventured to develop the concept of air mobility for urban areas. Among its competitors, it belongs to the few who were able to raise nine-digit investments, which, in turn, will be used in the creation of the hardware that would make cars fly. 

Specifically, the direction of the company is to make a piloted electric aircraft with a design that is patterned to a drone. But of course, its size would be able to accommodate adult-sized humans. It is noted that the Joby Aviation aircraft is capable of carrying four passengers at once.

Moreover, the said aircraft will come with six propellers. It has a flight range of approximately 150 miles and could travel for up to 200 miles per hour. However, these specifications are still subject to change, as the aircraft is still in the developmental stage.

Aside from Joby Aviation, Kitty Hawk and Volocopter are also heavily-backed by large ventures. Their goal is just the same as Joby Aviation, and that is to produce electric VTOL technology that can be manufactured on a large-scale basis. When they can realize this, they can begin an era where public transportation through air taxis is a thing already. 

However, it is only Joby Aviation that was able to get the support of a prominent automotive manufacturer. Kitty Hawk is backed by Boeing. Meanwhile, Airbus receives investment from a company known as Vahana.

Joby desires to make flying taxis that can be used as a significant medium for transportation. They want to deploy these aerial vehicles within different networks of a city. It is for this reason why these aircraft require trained pilots to navigate throughout the different parts of an area. 

With the substantial backing of Toyota to Joby, the latter will be able to seek help in addressing the manufacturing issues of the said vehicle. For instance, the electric VTOL will require lightweight-yet-durable composite technology on its construction. Fortunately, this technology is already present and currently being developed at aircraft and vehicle operations. 

Akio Toyoda, the CEO and President of Toyota revealed that the full implementation of air transportation is one of the objectives of the company. 

“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,” Toyoda said. “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.”

Aside from Toyota, there are still some other investors that poured their money into Joby Aviation. Examples of these investors are Intel Capital, Toyota AI Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, SPARX Group, and JetBlue Technology Ventures. 

The latest investors are the Global Oryx and Baillie Gifford. 

The number of investors that supported Joby Aviation enables the latter to amass $720 million. This amount is enough to push the technology of Joby Aviation and ensure that they can create flying vehicles. 

In previous years, various original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are quite receptive to the technological concepts of on-demand mobility, autonomous driving, mobility-as-a-service, and VTOL vehicles. Specifically, these OEMs are putting a significant amount of investments in those fields. They also tend to pair with market incumbents.

It is their act as well to promise investors that startups that they are not lagging behind in mobility race.

JoeBen Bevirt, the founder and CEO of the Joby Aviation, explained that the company is in hot pursuit of developing a modern system in transportation. 

“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,” Bevirt said. 

Once these VTOL aircraft became real, then it would have a positive effect on the ground traffic. More and more people will travel to the sky than on the land.