Joby Aviation raises $590m in Toyota-led funding round


eVTOL manufacturer Joby Aviation has raised $590m in a Series C venture round led by Toyota Motor Corporation.

Joby Aviation, located in Santa Cruz, CA, is the aviation technology subsidiary of camera equipment manufacturer Joby. It previously collaborated with NASA on the experimental electric aircraft project X-57 Maxwell and is now working on developing its own four-passenger eVTOL.

Toyota provided $394m of the total investment as part of a new collaboration with Joby. As part of the collaboration, Toyota’s executive vice president Shigeki Tomoyama has joined Joby’s board of directors.

JoeBen Bevirt, CEO and founder of Joby Aviation, said in a press release: “This collaboration with Toyota represents an unprecedented commitment of money and resources for us and this new industry from one of the world’s leading automakers.”

This Series C backing brings Joby’s total funding to $720m – making it one of the largest eVTOL companies by amount invested.

Akio Toyoda, Toyota president and CEO, said: “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.”

“Set our sights to the sky”

This is not the first time Toyota has invested in Joby to bolster its aviation presence. Toyota’s Silicon Valley-based venture capital business Toyota AI Ventures helped raise a $100m investment in Joby in February 2018.

Toyota AI Ventures has invested in 25 different companies since its founding in June 2018, according to Crunchbase figures. Most of its investment portfolio is comprised of robotics and AI companies, with Joby being the only eVTOL manufacturer.

Toyoda continues: “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 endeavour, we hope to deliver freedom of movement and enjoyment to customers everywhere, on land and now in the sky.”

Uber partners

This latest investment comes less than a month after Joby announced that it would be partnering with Uber to fly its eVTOL on the upcoming Uber Air air-taxi service.

Uber plans to bring its eVTOL air-taxi service to market in 2023, and Joby Aviation is the first of Uber’s six OEM partners to commit to flying its aircraft on the service by that date.

Toyota Motor Corporation has also backed Uber in the past. It led both a $1 billion corporate round in Uber’s autonomous and electric car subsidiary Uber Advanced Technologies, and another corporate round that raised $500 million for the ride-hailing company.

Joby Specifications:

Aircraft type: full-electric VTOL
Capacity: four passengers and one pilot
Speed: 200mph
Range: 150 miles per charge
Cost: Per-trip pricing that ‘approaches the cost of ground transportation’.