Japanese automotive giants, Toyota is investing $400 million in Joby Aviation, a flying electric car company as it looks to expand into new sectors.
As the car industry rapidly transforms, Toyota President Akio Toyoda says he is pledging to evolve the firm “from a car manufacturer to a mobility company”.
Toyota is looking to invest in Joby so as to commence commercialising electric flying cars for “fast, quiet and affordable air transportation services,” it says.
“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,” Toyoda noted in a statement announcing the investment.
“Through this new and exciting endeavour, we hope to deliver freedom of movement and enjoyment to customers everywhere, on land, and now, in the sky.”
Joby Aviation which was founded in 2009, is developing a four-passenger electric aircraft with multiple rotors that take off and lands vertically just like a helicopter.
The company is projecting the aircraft for ferrying commuters around for commercial transportation rather than for sale to individuals.
Toyota said it would also offer its “expertise in manufacturing, quality and cost controls for the development and production” of Joby’s aircraft.
One of its, will Also, Joby’s board will be joined by Toyota’s Executive Vice President Shigeki Tomoyama, and will be playing an “active role in setting strategic direction,” Toyota said.
Joby is already in partnership with ride-sharing firm Uber to develop an “urban air taxi service”.
Toyota has ventured into the flying vehicle field elsewhere, investing in the Japanese SkyDrive project to develop what is intended to be the world’s smallest flying car.
It has also branched out into other sectors, announcing at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month its plans for a “woven city” at the base of Mount Fuji that would be powered by hydrogen fuel cells and include roads for autonomous vehicles as well as smart homes.
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