Toyota Motor Corporation has pumped more than half a billion dollars into Californian aerospace company Joby Aviation, which is developing and commercialising an all-electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft.
The world's biggest car-maker recently announced a $US394 million ($AUD570m) cash splash, making it the lead investor in Joby's third round of financing. It also placed its executive vice president Shigeki Tomoya onto Joby's board of directors.
Total investment in Joby over various funding rounds totals $US720m ($AUD1.04b), with other partners including Intel Capital and JetBlue Technology Ventures. Joby has also previously announced a partnership with Uber to offer on-demand sky taxis by 2023.
Joby's piloted, electric air taxi can seat four people, and the company claims it'll go 240km on a charge, up to 320km/h, and emit less than one-one-hundredth the noise of a normal chopper.
"Over the past 10 years, the company’s team of engineers and physicists has developed a quiet, all-electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, which will be instrumental in the commercial launch of the emerging on-demand urban air taxi market," Joby says.
"Toyota will share its expertise in manufacturing, quality, and cost controls to support the development and production of Joby Aviation’s aircraft. This support, along with the capital investment, will accelerate the certification and deployment of this new mode of local transportation."
"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," added Toyota Motor Corporation 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 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."
Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt added: "This collaboration with Toyota represents an unprecedented commitment of money and resources for us, and for 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 to drive us toward our dream of helping a billion people save an hour+ commuting time every day."