Joby Aviation inked a long-term agreement with Toray Advanced Composites to supply composite material for its eVTOL aircraft that will be manufactured at a factory under construction in Marina, California.
Joby hopes for its yet-to-be-named four-passenger electric air taxi, with a stated range of 150 miles (241 km) and a top speed of 200 mph (321 km per hour), to be certified and operational as early as 2023. Carbon fiber materials are a key enabler of that goal, providing the strength-to-weight ratio needed to maximize the potential of electric propulsion in aerospace applications with the limited energy density currently available in batteries.
“Toray’s prepreg carbon fiber systems provide unparalleled specific strength and toughness, which have enabled Joby to develop aircraft with unprecedented capabilities,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation. “We are incredibly proud to be working with Toray as we certify this aircraft, and look forward to building a long-lasting partnership.”
Carbon fiber materials are used throughout the vehicle structure, propulsion systems and interior components, according to Joby. In a recent webinar sponsored by Dassault Systèmes, Joby additive manufacturing lead Sean McCluskey explained the company also aims to be “the first organization in history to attempt certification of multiple safety-critical structural additive titanium components with the FAA.”
Toyota, which in January announced a $394 million investment in the startup, will contribute the manufacturing expertise necessary to bring the aircraft from certification to a planned serial production rate that would be higher than most aircraft manufactured today. Numerous other eVTOL startups are pursuing similar partnerships with large auto manufacturers — or, like Hyundai Motor Group, auto manufacturers are choosing to hire aerospace and tech talent to design their own aircraft.
“We are very pleased to have finalized this important supply agreement with Joby Aviation, a pioneer in the development of the eVTOL,” said Toshiyuki Kondo, CEO of Toray Advanced Composites. “As children, we dreamed of being able to fly to a destination in a fraction of the time it would take to drive. That is no longer a fantasy. The electric air taxi is becoming a reality and we at Toray are perfectly positioned to meet the industry’s needs today and in the future. It’s a very exciting time.”
eVTOL.com has previously reported that Joby is close to finalizing a deal to acquire Uber Elevate, with a public announcement likely this week. Joby joined the ride-hailing giant’s air taxi ecosystem in December of last year as the only aircraft manufacturer publicly committed to certification by the organization’s ambitious target of 2023.