Joby Aviation has earned its latest financial infusion from Toyota Motor Corporation in the development of its all-electric VTOL aircraft. Toyota plans to “share expertise in manufacturing, quality and cost controls” during the development of the “quiet” eVTOL aircraft, according to a company press release. Toyota has invested $394 million as a lead investor in the Series C financing announced by Joby on January 15, 2020.
“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,” says Toyota Motor Corporation President and CEO Akio Toyoda. “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.”
The tranche is part of a larger investment package of $590 million in Series C financing in concert with prior investors to the program, including SPARX Group, Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures. New investors include Baillie Gifford and Global Oryx (ALJ family’s investment arm). The investment brings the total to $720 million to support efforts to use the aircraft to bring an air-taxi service to fruition.
The company is undergoing certification testing following the first flight of the aircraft last year. The current prototype is a piloted, 5-seat VTOL aircraft also designed for efficient forward flight. The company projects it will fly at speeds up to 200 mph and at a range of 150 miles on a charge. A key feature lies in its silence—designed to be nearly so during takeoff and landing in order to operate in noise-sensitive areas. The flights are taking place in Santa Cruz, California, where the company, in part, is based.