Toyota Invests $394M in Air-Taxi Startup

Toyota Leads $590 Million Funding Round in California VTOL Aircraft Startup Joby Aviation

Toyota Leads $590 Million Funding Round in California VTOL Aircraft Startup Joby Aviation

Toyota Motor Corporation executive vice president Shigeki Tomoyama will join Joby's board of directors and play an active role in setting strategic direction at the board level.

Japanese vehicle giant Toyota said Thursday it is investing almost US$400 million in a company working on commercialising electric flying cars for "fast, quiet and affordable air transportation services".

"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", Toyota big boss Akio Toyoda says in a statement announcing the partnership. Toyota also said its design was "well suited to meet the needs of an emerging air transportation market where commuters and travelers alike enjoy the benefits of aviation in and between urban centers on a daily basis".

Other automakers including Geely, Daimler and Porsche are also investing in the concept.

"As we take up the challenge of air transportation together with Joby ... we hope to deliver freedom of movement and enjoyment to customers everywhere, on land, and now, in the sky". Standing for electric vertical take-off and landing, eVTOL vehicles are colloquially known as air taxis and are seen as the transportation of the future.

Founded in 2009, Joby Aviation is based in Santa Cruz, California.

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Unlike Hyundai, Toyota does not seem determined to use its own manufacturing lines to produce aircraft, but it did said that, aside for money, it will try and help Joby by sharing its expertise in manufacturing, quality and cost control.

December past year, Joby and Uber Technologies Inc.

Its proprietary aircraft is a piloted eVTOL, which can fly at up to 200 miles per hour for a total distance of over 150 miles on a single charge. Its flight systems are built with high levels of redundancy for enhanced safety and reliability. The aircraft was designed so its easy for passengers to enter for departure and exit after landing.

Along with Toyota, participatants in the latest Series C round include SPARX Group, Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures and AME Cloud Ventures.

Toyota has injected 394 million dollars into the project, making it the top investor.

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