Toyota look to the skies in search of alternate forms of mobility

To get the weekend off to a flying start, here’s something that would give fans of flying vehicles (we know of one) a new high. Toyota has just announced that they would be investing an additional US$349 million in California-based Joby Aviation, ‘an aerospace company developing and commercialising all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to enable the deployment of fast, quiet and affordable air transportation services’.

Automakers investing in start-ups that specialise in alternate modes of mobility isn’t a new phenomenon; Mercedes-Benz funds German air taxi outfit Volocopter while Geely even acquired US-based start-up Terrafugia which develops flying cars.

Joby’s all-electric 4-seater flying machine is capable of 320 km/h, more than 240 km on a single charge and 100 times quieter than a conventional aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government, led by the Minister of Entrepreneur Development, has talked up not one but two flying car/drone/(fill in the blank) projects that are supposed to take flight but the first test flight was thwarted by the lack of an authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia. Oh well.

“As we take up the challenge of air transportation together with Joby, an innovator in the emerging eVTOL space, we tap the potential to revolutionise future transportation and life. 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,” said Toyota Motor Corporation President and CEO Akio Toyoda.

Toyota and Joby are of the view that eVTOLs will create new mobility services to overcome challenges such as traffic congestion, increased environmental burden and the lack of transportation in underpopulated areas.


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