Toyota is the latest major automaker to invest big in all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with the goal of producing flying taxis.
The Japanese marque invested $394 million in Santa-Cruz-based aerospace startup Joby Aviation to develop a four-passenger electric commercial aircraft that can fly for 150 miles at speeds of up to 200 mph on a single charge. It will also be 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft and produce no carbon emissions, according to Joby's website.
AT 2020 CES, Hyundai and Uber Elevate, the ride share service's aerial-focused division, also revealed plans to develop a practical concept for an air taxi. Porsche and Boeing recently joined forces to build and test an eVTOL prototype, though the company's recent announcement implied that the project might pursue "premium mobility," instead of a widely affordable flying taxi.
But Joby's model appears to be the farthest along, having executed hundreds of of full-scale test flights from 2014-2017 and already started the formal certification program with the Federal Aviation Administration. Forbes notes that Toyota's funding and expertise could help Joby manufacture at scale.
"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," said 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. Through this new and exciting endeavor, we hope to deliver freedom of movement and enjoyment to customers everywhere, on land, and now, in the sky."
With Joby continuing to test and fine-tune its prototypes, we could be seeing the first production models take flight in the not-so-distant future.