Joby Aviation receives $394 million cash injection from Toyota

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Toyota invests $394 million in taxi firm Joby Aviation.
Image: Toyota

On January 15, Joby Aviation secured $590 million in Series C funding. Notably, automotive giant Toyota invested $394 million in the electric aerial vehicle startup. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said his firm is backing the Santa Cruz, California-based firm because it has the potential to “revolutionize future transportation and life.”

Since its founding in 2009, Joby has received $720 million in outside funding for companies like Intel and JetBlue. Now, the company is spending money to make its innovative mobility concept a reality.

Joby’s Sky-High Ambitions

As opposed to many well-funded startups, Joby has a detailed roadmap and has a plan to realize its sky-high ambitions. The firm’s founder, JoeBen Bevirt, has had a lifelong interest in designing a new type of personal air transport.

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Early on, the entrepreneur’s firm worked with NASA to develop experimental, environmentally friendly airplanes. But in 2018, the company debuted its first prototype and won $100 million in investments.

Back then, Bevirt also outlined his long-term vision for his air taxi concern as a next-generation ride-hailing service. Joby would offer consumers short-hop trips in small all-electric aerial vehicles. Initially, the firm would outfit its fleet with human pilots but would eventually go fully autonomous.

Since then, the company has acquired more than half a billion dollars in additional funding and has made some key strategic partnerships.

Recent Developments Teamed

Last month, Uber announced plans to team with Joby to offer air taxi service in urban areas by 2023. As part of the deal, the car service will provide landing pads, ground transportation connections, and app support. Conversely, the aviation startup is handling the operation of its innovative flying vehicles.

Uber also unveiled pricing for its Elevate service; consumers in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne, Australia will pay $5 a mile to ride in a flying cab.

Joby has also developed a new prototype since its coming out party two years ago. The firm’s first concept aircraft reportedly featured 12 rotors and cabin that could accommodate for passengers. However, the startup’s revised aerial mobility solution features four rotors and is capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL).

Notably, Joby’s new prototype is capable of flying at 200 miles per hour and has a range of 150 miles per charge. The company also claims its aircraft is a remarkably quiet urban ariel vehicle. The startup says its four seater’s powertrain generates 100 times less noise than conventional aircraft.

Presently, the aviation startup is going to its prototyping phase at its Marina, California facility. However, when it’s done testing its electric VTOL aircraft, Toyota will manufacture it at scale. The ambitious firm has also taken steps to secure regulatory approval to operate its aerial ridesharing service.

In 2018, Joby applied for certification from the Federal Aviation Authority, and it expects to receive government approval by 2023 or 2025. In addition, Bevirt intends to have a fleet of thousands of electric air taxis and attendant infrastructure up and running by 2035.

With Joby ascendance and the recent government authorization of drone delivery services, America’s skies are going to become a lot more crowded in the near future.

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