California-based flying-taxi startup Joby Aviation has joined forces with Japan’s largest airline ANA Holdings, to bring aerial ridesharing to Japan for the first time. Toyota Motor Corporation also joined the partnership with the intention of exploring opportunities such as ground-based transportation.
This announcement reflects Joby’s strategy to partner with local companies committed to delivering exceptional customer service and operational excellence to launch its service in select markets outside the U.S. The startup and ANA Holdings will work together on all aspects of establishing this revolutionary new form of transportation in Japan, including the development of infrastructure, pilot training, flight operations, air traffic management, public acceptance, and the regulatory requirements to operate.
Toyota will also support Joby’s announcement by investigating how ground transportation can be integrated into the service. It is actually Joby’s largest investor and has worked with the startup since 2019.
Joby is developing an all-electric, five-seat aircraft that can take off and land vertically (eVTOL). Joby’s piloted aircraft has a maximum range of 150 miles (241 km), a top speed of 200 mph (321 km/h), and a low noise profile to allow it to access built-up areas. It is designed to make convenient, emissions-free air travel an everyday reality. The 31 miles (50 km) journey from Osaka station to Kansai International Airport could, for example, take less than 15 minutes by air rather than one hour by car. The startup targets producing its first aircraft this year, with entry into service slated for 2024.
Joby has spent more than a decade developing the technology behind its aircraft, completing more than 1,000 test flights. With Japan due to host the 2025 World Expo in the western capital of Osaka, the concept has been gathering momentum in the country.
“Joby exists to help people save time while reducing their carbon footprint. Japan offers us a spectacular opportunity to do just that with 92% of the population living in urban areas and Tokyo registering as one of the top 20 most congested cities in the world,” comments JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby.