Toyota Motor joins the list of automobile giants wishing to develop flying taxis. The Japanese automaker has announced an investment of $394 million in Joby Aviation, a Californian startup focused on the development of vertical take-off and landing electric aircraft with potential for urban use. This large investment is yet another sign of intensified efforts by Toyota to transform itself into a global giant in new mobility.
Under the new investment agreement, Toyota will partner with Joby Aviation to design and manufacture flying taxis capable of taking off and landing vertically. This vehicle will be used for the ride service.
The investment reflects “Toyota’s recognition of the long-term potential of the urban air mobility market.” The founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, JoeBen Bevirt, said that Toyota’s investment is “an unprecedented commitment of money and resources” for his company and the new sector. Companies expect their collaboration to facilitate efficient mass production of this type of aircraft, as well as compliance with the increasingly stringent safety standards.
The aerospace company has received up to $590 million in Series C funding. Other investors that bet on Joby Aviation include SPARX Group, Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, Baillie Gifford, and JetBlue Technology Ventures.
Joby Aviation revealed the airline’s electric-powered flight taxi model has six rotors and five seats, including pilot seats. Like a helicopter, Joby Aviation’s taxi can take off and land vertically. This vehicle can reach a maximum speed of 320 km/h (200 mph) and fly over 240 km (150 miles) on a single charge. Moreover, flying taxis using electric motors will have 100 times less noise than conventional aircraft and zero carbon emission.
Aviation has been living with more car companies lately. Hyundai recently announced that it wants to develop flying taxis for Uber. The South Koreans have been busy for a while with a flying car, the Personal Air Vehicle.