TOMOYOSHI OSHIKIRI, Nikkei staff writer
NAGOYA, Japan — Toyota Motor is investing $394 million into the U.S. “flying taxi” startup Joby Aviation, the Japanese company announced on Thursday.
Founded in 2009, Joby is developing an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or eVTOL, for urban transportation services.
The fresh funding follows Toyota’s investment in February 2018 through its affiliated venture capital subsidiary, Toyota AI Ventures. The carmaker plans to provide Joby with manufacturing and electrification technologies to achieve mass production.
Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota’s executive vice president, will join Joby’s board of directors after making the investment. Toyota’s CEO and President Akio Toyoda said, “We hope to deliver freedom of movement and enjoyment to customers everywhere, on land, and now, in the sky.”
Flying taxis are widely seen as the potential solution for congestion in increasingly urbanized cities. Toyota already backs another flying car startup, SkyDrive.
Other automakers including Geely, Daimler and Porsche are also investing in the concept. Hyundai recently said it is teaming up with Uber Technologies to manufacture eVTOLs.