The secretive California startup Joby Aviation has taken the wraps off its S4 eVTOL air taxi and announced $590 million in Series C funding — including a $394 million investment by Toyota Motor Corp.
Joby revealed photographs of the all-electric S4 — designed to carry four passengers plus a pilot — on Jan. 15. The vehicle will be capable of speeds of 200 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour) and will have a range of more than 150 miles (240 km) on a single charge, the company said. Joby also promised that the S4 will be 100 times quieter than a conventional aircraft during take-off and landing, and “near-silent in flyover.”
The Series C round brings the company’s total funding to $720 million. According to a press release, prior investors — including SPARX Group, Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures — also contributed to the round, and were joined by new investors Baillie Gifford and Global Oryx (ALJ family’s investment arm). Shigeki Tomoyama, the executive vice president of Toyota Motor Corporation, will join Joby Aviation’s board of directors.
“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 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.”
Toyota will share its expertise in manufacturing, quality, and cost controls to support the development and production of Joby’s S4 aircraft, which will be operated as a service with per-trip passenger pricing. Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt said the 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.
“Toyota is known globally for the quality and reliability of their products driven by meticulous attention to detail and manufacturing processes. I am excited to harness Toyota’s engineering and manufacturing prowess helping to drive us to achieve our dream of saving a billion people an hour a day,” Bevirt stated.
The announcement comes less than a month after Joby announced that it had signed on as a vehicle partner for Uber’s Elevate initiative, becoming the first such partner to commit to deploying air taxi services by 2023. Along with Toyota’s in-kind support, the new capital investment “will accelerate the certification and deployment of this new mode of local transportation,” Joby said.